Book 4: The Growing Power of the Plebs
[4.1]The consuls who succeeded were M. Genucius and C. Curtius. The year was a troubled one both at home and abroad. In the beginning of the year C. Canuleius, a tribune of the plebs, introduced a law with regard to the intermarriage of patricians and plebeians. The patricians considered that their blood would be contaminated by it and the special rights of the houses thrown into confusion. Then the tribunes began to throw out hints about one consul being elected from the plebs, and matters advanced so far that nine tribunes brought in a measure empowering the people to elect consuls from the plebeians or the patricians as they chose. The patricians believed that, if this were carried, the supreme power would not only be degraded by being shared with the lowest of the people, but would entirely pass away from the chief men in the State into the hands of the plebs. The senate were not sorry, therefore, to hear that Ardea had revolted as a consequence of the unjust decision about the territory, that the Veientines had ravaged the districts on the Roman frontier, and that the Volscians and Aequi were protesting against the fortifying of Verrugo; so much did they prefer war, even when unsuccessful, to an ignominious peace. On receiving these reports - which were somewhat exaggerated - the senate tried to drown the voice of the tribunes in the uproar of so many wars by ordering a levy to be made and all preparations for war pushed on with the utmost vigour, more so, if possible, than during the consulship of T. Quinctius. Thereupon C. Canuleius addressed the senate in a short and angry speech. It was, he said, useless for the consuls to hold out threats in the hope of distracting the attention of the plebs from the proposed law; as long as he was alive they should never hold a levy until the plebs had adopted the measures brought forward by himself and his colleagues. He at once convened an Assembly.
[4.2]The consuls began to rouse the senate to take action against the tribunes, and at the same time the tribunes were getting up an agitation against the consuls. The consuls declared that the revolutionary proceedings of the tribunes could no longer be tolerated, matters had come to a crisis, there was a more bitter war going on at home than abroad. This was not the fault of the plebs so much as of the senate, nor of the tribunes more than of the consuls. Those things in a State which attain the highest development are those which are encouraged by rewards; it is thus that men become good citizens in times of peace, good soldiers in times of war. In Rome the greatest rewards are won by seditious agitations, these have always brought honour to men both individually and in the mass. Those present should reflect upon the greatness and dignity of the senate as they had received it from their fathers, and consider what they were going to hand on to their children, in order that they might be able to feel pride in the extension and growth of its influence, as the plebs felt pride in theirs. There was no final settlement in sight, nor would there be as long as agitators were honoured in proportion to the success of their agitation. What enormous questions had C. Canuleius raised! He was advocating the breaking up of the houses, tampering with the auspices, both those of the State and those of individuals, so that nothing would be pure, nothing free from contamination, and in the effacing of all distinctions of rank, no one would know either himself or his kindred. What other result would mixed marriages have except to make unions between patricians and plebeians almost like the promiscuous association of animals? The offspring of such marriages would not know whose blood flowed in his veins, what sacred rites he might perform; half of him patrician, half plebeian, he would not even be in harmony with himself. And as though it were a small matter for all things human and divine to be thrown into confusion, the disturbers of the people were now making an onslaught on the consulship. At first the question of one consul being elected from the plebs was only mooted in private conversations, now a measure was brought forward giving the people power to elect consuls from either patricians or plebeians as they chose. And there was no shadow of doubt that they would elect all the most dangerous revolutionaries in the plebs; the Canuleii and the Icilii would be consuls. Might Jupiter Optimus Maximus never allow a power truly royal in its majesty to sink so low! They would rather die a thousand deaths than suffer such an ignominy to be perpetrated. Could their ancestors have divined that all their concessions only served to make the plebs more exacting, not more friendly, since their first success only emboldened them to make more and more urgent demands, it was quite certain that they would have gone any lengths in resistance sooner than allow these laws to be forced upon them. Because a concession was once made in the matter of tribunes, it had been made again; there was no end to it. Tribunes of the plebs and the senate could not exist in the same State, either that office or this order (i.e. the nobility) must go. Their insolence and recklessness must be opposed, and better late than never. Were they to be allowed with impunity to stir up our neighbours to war by sowing the seeds of discord and then prevent the State from arming in its defence against those whom they had stirred up, and after all but summoning the enemy not allow armies to be enrolled against the enemy? Was Canuleius, forsooth, to have the audacity to give out before the senate that unless it was prepared to accept his conditions, like those of a conqueror, he would stop a levy being held? What else was that but threatening to betray his country and allowing it to be attacked and captured ? What courage would his words inspire, not in the Roman plebs but in the Volscians and Aequi and Veientines! Would they not hope, with Canuleius as their leader, to be able to scale the Capitol and the Citadel, if the tribunes, after stripping the senate of its rights and its authority, deprived it also of its courage? The consuls were ready to be their leaders against criminal citizens before they led them against the enemy in arms.
[4.3]At the very time when this was going on in the senate, Canuleius delivered the following speech in defence of his laws and in opposition to the consuls: "I fancy, Quirites, that I have often noticed in the past how greatly the patricians despise you, how unworthy they deem you to live in the same City, within the same walls, as they. Now, however, it is perfectly obvious, seeing how bitter an opposition they have raised to our proposed laws. For what is our purpose in framing them except to remind them that we are their fellow-citizens, and though we do not possess the same power, we still inhabit the same country? In one of these laws we demand the right of intermarriage, a right usually granted to neighbours and foreigners - indeed we have granted citizenship, which is more than intermarriage, even to a conquered enemy - in the other we are bringing forward nothing new, but simply demanding back what belongs to the people and claiming that the Roman people should confer its honours on whom it will. What possible reason is there why they should embroil heaven and earth, why recently in the Senate-house I was on the point of being subjected to personal violence, why they declare they will not keep their hands off, and threaten to attack our inviolable authority? Will this City be no longer able to stand, is our dominion at an end, if a free vote is allowed to the Roman people so that they may entrust the consulship to whomsoever they will, and no plebeian may be shut out from the hope of attaining the highest honour if only he be worthy of the highest honour? Does the phrase 'Let no plebeian be made consul' mean just the same as 'No slave or freedman shall be consul'? Do you ever realise in what contempt you are living? They would rob you of your share in this daylight, if they could. They are indignant because you breathe and utter speech and wear the form of men. Why! Heaven forgive me, they actually say that it would be an act of impiety for a plebeian to be made consul! Though we are not allowed access to the 'Fasti' or the records of the pontiffs, do we not, pray, know what every stranger knows, that the consuls have simply taken the place of the kings, and possess no right or privilege which was not previously vested in the kings? I suppose you have never heard tell that Numa Pompilius, who was not only no patrician but not even a Roman citizen, was summoned from the land of the Sabines, and after being accepted by the people and confirmed by the senate, reigned as king of Rome? Or that, after him, L. Tarquinius, who belonged to no Roman house, not even to an Italian one, being the son of Demaratus of Corinth, who had settled in Tarquinii, was made king while the sons of Ancus were still alive? Or that, after him again, Servius Tullius, the illegitimate son of a female slave captured at Corniculum, gained the crown by sheer merit and ability? Why need I mention the Sabine Titus Tatius, with whom Romulus himself, the Father of the City, shared his throne? As long as no class of person in which conspicuous merit appeared was rejected, the Roman dominion grew. Are you then to regard a plebeian consul with disgust, when our ancestors showed no aversion to strangers as their kings? Not even after the expulsion of the kings was the City closed to foreign merit. The Claudian house, at all events, who migrated from the Sabines, was received by us not only into citizenship, but even into the ranks of the patricians. Shall a man who was an alien become a patrician and afterwards consul, and a Roman citizen, if he belongs to the plebs, be cut off from all hope of the consulship? Do we believe that it is impossible for a plebeian to be brave and energetic and capable both in peace and war, or if there be such a man, are we not to allow him to touch the helm of the State; are we to have, by preference, consuls like the decemvirs, those vilest of mortals - who, nevertheless, were all patricians - rather than men who resemble the best of the kings, new men though they were?
[4.4]"But, I may be told, no consul, since the expulsion of the kings, has ever been elected from the plebs. What then? Ought no innovation ever to be introduced; and because a thing has not yet been done - and in a new community there are many things which have not yet been done - ought they not to be done, even when they are advantageous? In the reign of Romulus there were no pontiffs, no college of augurs; they were created by Numa Pompilius. There was no census in the State, no register of the centuries and classes; it was made by Servius Tullius. There were never any consuls; when the kings had been expelled they were created. Neither the power nor the name of Dictator was in existence; it originated with the senate. There were no tribunes of the plebs, no aediles, no quaestors; it was decided that these offices should be created. Within the last ten years we appointed decemvirs to commit the laws to writing and then we abolished their office. Who doubts that in a City built for all time and without any limits to its growth new authorities have to be established, new priesthoods, modifications in the rights and privileges of the houses as well as of individual citizens? Was not this very prohibition of intermarriage between patricians and plebeians, which inflicts such serious injury on the commonwealth and such a gross injustice on the plebs, made by the decemvirs within these last few years? Can there be a greater or more signal disgrace than for a part of the community to be held unworthy of intermarriage, as though contaminated? What is this but to suffer exile and banishment within the same walls? They are guarding against our becoming connected with them by affinity or relationship, against our blood being allied with theirs. Why, most of you are descended from Albans and Sabines, and that nobility of yours you hold not by birth or blood, but by co-optation into the patrician ranks, having been selected for that honour either by the kings, or after their expulsion by the mandate of the people. If your nobility is tainted by union with us, could you not have kept it pure by private regulations, by not seeking brides from the plebs, and not suffering your sisters or daughters to marry outside your order? No plebeian will offer violence to a patrician maiden, it is the patricians who indulge in those criminal practices. None of us would have compelled any one to enter into a marriage contract against his will. But, really, that this should be prohibited by law and the intermarriage of patricians and plebeians made impossible is indeed insulting to the plebs. Why do you not combine to forbid intermarriage between rich and poor? Everywhere and in all ages there has been an understanding that a woman might marry into any house in which she has been betrothed, and a man might marry from any house the woman to whom he has become engaged, and this understanding you are fettering by the manacles of a most insolent law, through which you may break up civil society and rend one State into two. Why do you not enact a law that no plebeian shall live in the neighbourhood of a patrician, or go along the same road, or take his place at the same banquet, or stand in the same Forum? For, as a matter of fact, what difference is there, if a patrician marries a plebeian woman or a plebeian marries a patrician? What rights are infringed, pray? Of course, the children follow the father. There is nothing that we are seeking in intermarriage with you, except that we may be reckoned amongst men and citizens; there is nothing for you to fight about, unless you delight in trying how far you can insult and degrade us.
[4.5]"In a word, does the supreme power belong to you or to the Roman people? Did the expulsion of the kings mean absolute ascendancy for you or equal liberty for all? Is it right and proper for the Roman people to enact a law, if it wishes to do so, or are you going, whenever a measure is proposed, to order a levy by way of punishment? Am I to call the tribes up to vote, and as soon as I have begun, are you, the consuls, going to compel those who are liable for service to take the military oath, and then march them off to camp, threatening alike the plebs and the tribunes? Why, have you not on two occasions found out what your threats are worth against a united plebs? Was it, I wonder, in our interest that you abstained from an open conflict, or was it because the stronger party was also the more moderate one that there was no fighting? Nor will there be any conflict now, Quirites; they will always try your courage, they will not test your strength. And so, consuls, the plebeians are ready to follow you to these wars, whether real or imaginary, on condition that by restoring the right of intermarriage you at last make this commonwealth a united one, that it be in their power to be allied with you by family ties, that the hope of attaining high office be granted to men of ability and energy, that it be open to them to be associated with you in taking their share of the government, and - which is the essence of equal liberty - to rule and obey in turn, in the annual succession of magistrates. If any one is going to obstruct these measures, you may talk about wars and exaggerate them by rumour, no one is going to give in his name, no one is going to take up arms, no one is going to fight for domineering masters with whom they have in public life no partnership in honours, and in private life no right of intermarriage."
[4.6]After the two consuls had come forward into the Assembly, set speeches gave place to a personal altercation. The tribune asked why it was not right for a plebeian to be elected consul. The consuls gave a reply which, though perhaps true, was an unfortunate one in view of the present controversy. They said, "Because no plebeian could have the auspices, and the reason why the decemvirs had put an end to intermarriage was to prevent the auspices from being vitiated through the uncertainty of descent." This bitterly exasperated the plebeians, for they believed that they were held incompetent to take the auspices because they were hateful to the immortal gods. As they had got a most energetic leader in their tribune and were supporting him with the utmost determination, the controversy ended in the defeat of the patricians. They consented to the intermarriage law being passed, mainly in the belief that the tribunes would either abandon the struggle for plebeian consuls altogether, or would at least postpone it till after the war, and that the plebeians, contented with what they had gained, would be ready to enlist. Owing to his victory over the patricians Canuleius was now immensely popular. Fired by his example, the other tribunes fought with the utmost energy to secure the passing of their measure, and though the rumours of war became more serious every day they obstructed the enlistment. As no business could be transacted in the senate owing to the intervention of the tribunes, the consuls held councils of the leaders at their own houses.
It was evident that they would have to yield the victory either to their foreign foes or to their own countrymen. Valerius and Horatius were the only men of consular rank who did not attend these councils. C. Claudius was in favour of empowering the consuls to use armed force against the tribunes; the Quinctii, Cincinnatus and Capitolinus, were averse from bloodshed or injury to those whom in their treaty with the plebs they had agreed to hold inviolable. The result of their deliberations was that they allowed tribunes of the soldiers with consular powers to be elected from the patricians and plebeians indiscriminately; no change was made in the election of consuls. This arrangement satisfied the tribunes and it satisfied the plebs. Notice was published that an Assembly would be held for the election of three tribunes with consular powers. No sooner was this announcement made than everybody who had ever acted or spoken as a fomenter of sedition, especially those who had been tribunes, came forward as candidates, and began to bustle about the Forum, canvassing for votes. The patricians were at first deterred from seeking election, as in the exasperated mood of the plebeians they regarded their chances as hopeless, and they were disgusted at the prospect of having to hold office with these men. At last, under compulsion from their leaders, lest they should appear to have withdrawn from any share in the government, they consented to stand. The result of the election showed that when men are contending for liberty and the right to hold office their feelings are different from what they are when the contest is over and they can form an unbiased judgment. The people were satisfied now that votes were allowed for plebeians, and they elected none but patricians. Where in these days will you find in a single individual the moderation, fairness, and loftiness of mind which then characterised the people as a whole?
[4.7]In the 310th year after the foundation of Rome (444 B.C.), military tribunes with consular powers for the first time took office. Their names were Aulus Sempronius Atratinus, L. Atilius, and T. Caecilius, and during their tenure of office concord at home procured peace abroad. Some writers omit all mention of the proposal to elect consuls from the plebs, and assert that the creation of three military tribunes invested with the insignia and authority of consuls was rendered necessary by the inability of two consuls to cope at the same time with the Veientine war in addition to the war with the Aequi and Volscians and the defection of Ardea. The jurisdiction of that office was not yet, however, firmly established, for in consequence of the decision of the augurs they resigned office after three months, owing to some irregularity in their election. C. Curtius, who had presided over their election, had not rightly selected his position for taking the auspices. Ambassadors came from Ardea to complain of the injustice done them; they promised that if it were removed by the restoration of their territory they would abide by the treaty and remain good friends with Rome. The senate replied that they had no power to rescind a judgment of the people, there was no precedent or law to allow it, the necessity of preserving harmony between the two orders made it impossible. If the Ardeates were willing to wait their time and leave the redress of their wrongs in the hands of the senate, they would afterwards congratulate themselves on their moderation, and would discover that the senators were just as anxious that no injustice should be done them as that whatever had been done should speedily be repaired. The ambassadors said that they would bring the whole matter again before their senate, and were then courteously dismissed.
As the State was now without any curule magistrate, the patricians met together and appointed an interrex. Owing to a dispute whether consuls or military tribunes should be elected, the interregnum lasted several days. The interrex and the senate tried to secure the election of consuls; the plebs and their tribunes that of military tribunes. The senate conquered, for the plebeians were sure to confer either honour on the patricians and so refrained from an idle contest, whilst their leaders preferred an election in which no votes could be received for them to one in which they would be passed over as unworthy to hold office. The tribunes, too, gave up the fruitless contest out of complaisance to the leaders of the senate. T. Quinctius Barbatus, the interrex, elected as consuls Lucius Papirius Mugilanus and L. Sempronius Atratinus. During their consulship the treaty with Ardea was renewed. This is the sole proof that they were the consuls for that year, for they are not found in the ancient annals nor in the official list of magistrates. The reason, I believe, was that since at the beginning of the year there were military tribunes, the names of the consuls who replaced them were omitted as though the tribunes had continued in office through the year. According to Licinius Macer, their names were found in the copy of the treaty with Ardea, as well as in the "Linen Rolls." In spite of so many alarming symptoms of unrest amongst the neighbouring nations, things were quiet both abroad and at home.
[4.8]Whether there were tribunes this year, or whether they were replaced by consuls, there is no doubt that the following year the consuls were M. Geganius Macerinus and T. Quinctius Capitolinus; the former consul for the second time, the latter for the fifth time. This year saw the beginning of the censorship, an office which, starting from small beginnings, grew to be of such importance that it had the regulation of the conduct and morals of Rome, the control of the senate and the equestrian order; the power of honouring and degrading was also in the hands of these magistrates; the legal rights connected with public places and private property, and the revenues of the Roman people, were under their absolute control. Its origin was due to the fact that no census had been taken of the people for many years, and it could no longer be postponed, whilst the consuls, with so many wars impending, did not feel at liberty to undertake the task. It was suggested in the senate that as the business would be a complicated and laborious one, not at all suitable for the consuls, a special magistrate was needed who should superintend the registrars and have the custody of the lists and assessment schedules and fix the valuation of property and the status of citizens at his discretion. Though the suggestion was not of great importance, the senate gladly adopted it, as it would add to the number of patrician magistrates in the State, and I think that they anticipated what actually happened, that the influence of those who held the office would soon enhance its authority and dignity. The tribunes, too, looking more at the need which certainly existed for such an office than at the lustre which would attend its administration, offered no opposition, lest they should appear to be raising troublesome difficulties even in small matters. The foremost men of the State declined the honour, so Papirius and Sempronius - about whose consulship doubts were entertained - were elected by the suffrages of the people to conduct the census. Their election to this magistracy made up for the incompleteness of their consulship. From the duties they had to discharge they were called Censors.
[4.9]Whilst this was going on in Rome, ambassadors came from Ardea, appealing, in the name of the ancient alliance and recently renewed treaty, for help for their city which was almost destroyed. They were not allowed, they said, to enjoy the peace which in pursuance of the soundest policy they had maintained with Rome, owing to internal disputes. The origin and occasion of these is said to have been party struggles, which have been and will be more ruinous to the majority of States than external wars or famine and pestilence or whatever else is ascribed to the wrath of the gods as the last evil which a State can suffer. Two young men were courting a maiden of plebeian descent celebrated for her beauty. One of them, the girl's equal in point of birth, was encouraged by her guardians, who belonged to the same class; the other, a young noble captivated solely by her beauty, was supported by the sympathy and good-will of the nobility. Party feeling had even penetrated into the girl's home, for the mother, who wanted her daughter to make as splendid a match as possible, preferred the young noble, whilst the guardians, carrying their partisanship even into such a matter as this, were working for the man of their own class. As the matter could not be settled within the four walls of the house, they brought it into court. After hearing the appeals of the mother and of the guardians, the magistrates granted the disposal of the girl's hand in accordance with the mother's wishes. But violence won the day, for the guardians, after haranguing a number of their partisans in the Forum on the iniquity of the verdict, collected a body of men and carried off the maiden from her mother's house. They were met by a still more determined troop of nobles, assembled to follow their young comrade, who was furious at the outrage. A desperate fight ensued and the plebeians got the worst of it. In a very different spirit from the Roman plebs they marched, fully armed, out of the city and took possession of a hill from which they raided the lands of the nobles and laid them waste with fire and sword. A multitude of artisans who had previously taken no part in the conflict, excited by the hope of plunder, joined them, and preparations were made to besiege the city. All the horrors of war were present in the city, as though it had been infected with the madness of the two young men who were seeking fatal nuptials out of their country's ruin. Both sides felt the need of an addition to their strength; the nobles prevailed on the Romans to come to the relief of their beleaguered city; the plebs induced the Volscians to join them in attacking Ardea. The Volscians, under the leadership of Cluilius, the Aequian, were the first to come, and drew lines of circumvallation round the enemy's walls. When news of this reached Rome the consul M. Geganius at once left with an army and fixed his camp three miles distant from the enemy, and as the day was declining he ordered his men to rest. At the fourth watch he ordered an advance, and so expeditiously was the task undertaken and completed, that at sunrise the Volscians saw themselves enclosed by a stronger circumvallation than the one which they had themselves carried round the city. In another direction the consul constructed a covered way up to the wall of Ardea by which his friends in the city could go to and fro.
[4.10]Up to that time the Volscian commander had not laid in any stock of provisions, as he had been able to maintain his army upon the corn carried off each day from the surrounding country. Now, however, that he was suddenly shut in by the Roman lines, he found himself destitute of everything. He invited the consul to a conference, and said that if the object for which the Romans had come was to raise the siege, he would withdraw the Volscians. The consul replied that it was for the defeated side to submit to terms, not to impose them, and as the Volscians had come at their own pleasure to attack the allies of Rome, they should not depart on the same terms. He required them to lay down their arms, surrender their general, and make acknowledgment of their defeat by placing themselves under his orders; otherwise, whether they remained or departed, he would prove a relentless foe, and would rather carry back to Rome a victory over them than a faithless peace. The only hope of the Volscians lay in their arms, and slight as it was they risked it. The ground was unfavourable to them for fighting, still more so for flight. As they were being cut down in all directions, they begged for quarter, but they were only allowed to get away after their general had been surrendered, their arms given up, and they themselves sent under the yoke. Covered with disgrace and disaster, they departed with only one garment apiece. They halted not far from the city of Tusculum, and owing to an old grudge which that city had against them, they were suddenly attacked, and defenceless as they were, suffered severe punishment, few being left to carry the news of the disaster. The consul settled the troubles in Ardea by beheading the ringleaders of the disturbance and confiscating their property to the treasury of the city. The citizens considered that the injustice of the recent decision was removed by the great service that Rome had rendered, but the senate thought that something ought still to be done to wipe out the record of national avarice. The consul Quinctius achieved the difficult task of rivalling in his civil administration the military renown of his colleague. He showed such care to maintain peace and concord by tempering justice equally for the highest and the lowest, that whilst the senate looked upon him as a stern consul, the plebeians regarded him as a lenient one. He held his ground against the tribunes more by personal authority than by active opposition. Five consulships marked by the same even tenor of conduct, a whole lifetime passed in a manner worthy of a consul, invested the man himself with almost more reverence than the office he filled. Whilst these two men were consuls there was no talk of military tribunes.
[4.11]The new consuls were Marcus Fabius Vibulanus and Postumius Aebutius Cornicinen. The previous year was regarded by the neighbouring peoples, whether friendly or hostile, as chiefly memorable because of the trouble taken to help Ardea in its peril. The new consuls, aware that they were succeeding men distinguished both at home and abroad, were all the more anxious to obliterate from men's minds the infamous judgment. Accordingly, they obtained a senatorial decree ordering that as the population of Ardea had been seriously reduced through the internal disturbances, a body of colonists should be sent there as a protection against the Volscians. This was the reason alleged in the text of the decree, to prevent their intention of rescinding the judgment from being suspected by the plebs and tribunes. They had, however, privately agreed that the majority of the colonists should consist of Rutulians, that no land should be allotted other than what had been appropriated under the infamous judgment, and that not a single sod should be assigned to a Roman till all the Rutulians had received their share. So the land went back to the Ardeates. Agrippa Menenius, T. Cluilius Siculus, and M. Aebutius Helva were the triumvirs appointed to superintend the settlement of the colony. Their office was not only extremely unpopular, but they gave great offence to the plebs by assigning to allies land which the Roman people had formally adjudged to be their own. Even with the leaders of the patricians they were out of favour, because they had refused to allow themselves to be influenced by any of them. The tribunes impeached them, but they avoided all further vexatious proceedings by enrolling themselves amongst the settlers and remaining in the colony which they now possessed as a testimony to their justice and integrity.
[4.12]There was peace abroad and at home during this and the following year when C. Furius Pacilus and M. Papirius Crassus were consuls. The Sacred Games, which in accordance with a decree of the senate had been vowed by the decemvirs on the occasion of the secession of the plebs, were celebrated this year. Poetilius, who had again raised the question of the division of territory, was made tribune. He made fruitless efforts to create sedition, and was unable to prevail upon the consuls to bring the question before the senate. After a great struggle he succeeded so far that the senate should be consulted as to whether the next elections should be held for consuls or for consular tribunes. They ordered consuls to be elected. The tribune's menaces were laughed at when he threatened to obstruct the levy at a time when all the neighbouring States were quiet and there was no necessity for war or for any preparations for war. Proculus Geganius Macerinus and Lucius Menenius Lanatus were the consuls for the year which followed this state of tranquillity; a year remarkable for a multiplicity of disasters and dangers, seditions, famine, and the imminent risk of the people being bribed to bow their necks to despotic power. A foreign war alone was wanting. Had this come to aggravate the universal distress, resistance would hardly have been possible even with the help of all the gods.
The misfortunes began with a famine, owing either to the year being unfavourable to the crops, or to the cultivation of the land being abandoned for the attractions of political meetings and city life; both causes are assigned. The senate blamed the idleness of the plebeians, the tribunes charged the consuls at one time with dishonesty, at another with negligence. At last they induced the plebs, with the acquiescence of the senate, to appoint as Prefect of the Corn-market L. Minucius. In that capacity he was more successful in guarding liberty than in the discharge of his office, though in the end he deservedly won gratitude and reputation for having relieved the scarcity. He despatched numerous agents by sea and land to visit the surrounding nations, but as, with the sole exception of Etruria, who furnished a small supply, their mission was fruitless, he made no impression on the market. He then devoted himself to the careful adjustment of the scarcity, and obliged all who possessed any corn to declare the amount, and after retaining a month's supply for themselves, sell the rest to the Government. By cutting down the daily rations of the slaves to one half, by holding up the corn-merchants to public execration, by rigorous and inquisitorial methods, he revealed the prevailing distress more than he relieved it. Many of the plebs lost all hope, and rather than drag on a life of misery muffled their heads and threw themselves into the Tiber.
[4.13]It was at that time that Spurius Maelius, a member of the equestrian order and a very wealthy man for those days, entered upon an undertaking, serviceable in itself, but forming a very bad precedent and dictated by still worse motives. Through the instrumentality of his clients and foreign friends he purchased corn in Etruria, and this very circumstance, I believe, hampered the Government in their efforts to cheapen the market. He distributed this corn gratis, and so won the hearts of the plebeians by this generosity that wherever he moved, conspicuous and consequential beyond an ordinary mortal, they followed him, and this popularity seemed to his hopes a sure earnest of a consulship. But the minds of men are never satisfied with Fortune's promises, and he began to entertain loftier and unattainable aims; he knew the consulship would have to be won in the teeth of the patricians, so he began to dream of royalty. After all his grand schemes and efforts he looked upon that as the only fitting reward which owing to its greatness must be won by the greatest exertions. The consular elections were now close at hand, and as his plans were not yet matured, this circumstance proved his ruin. T. Quinctius Capitolinus, a very awkward man for any one meditating a revolution, was chosen consul for the sixth time, and Agrippa Menenius, surnamed Lanatus, was assigned to him as his colleague. Lucius Minucius was either reappointed prefect of the corn-market, or his original appointment was for an indefinite period as long as circumstances required; there is nothing definitely stated beyond the fact that the name of the prefect was entered on the "Linen Rolls" among the magistrates for both years. Minucius was discharging the same function as a State official which Maelius had undertaken as a private citizen, and the same class of people frequented both their houses. He made a discovery which he brought to the notice of the senate, viz., that arms were being collected in Maelius' house, and that he was holding secret meetings at which plans were being undoubtedly formed to establish a monarchy. The moment for action was not yet fixed, but everything else had been settled; the tribunes had been bought over to betray the liberties of the people, and these leaders of the populace had had their various parts assigned to them. He had, he said, delayed making his report till it was almost too late for the public safety, lest he should appear to be the author of vague and groundless suspicions.
On hearing this the leaders of the senate censured the consuls of the previous year for having allowed those free distributions of corn and secret meetings to go on, and they were equally severe on the new consuls for having waited till the prefect of the corn-market had made his report, for the matter was of such importance that the consuls ought not only to have reported it, but also dealt with it. In reply, Quinctius said that the censure on the consuls was undeserved, for, hampered as they were by the laws giving the right of appeal, which were passed to weaken their authority, they were far from possessing as much power as will to punish the atrocious attempt with the severity it deserved. What was wanted was not only a strong man, but one who was free to act, unshackled by the laws. He should therefore nominate Lucius Quinctius as Dictator, for he had the courage and resolution which such great powers demanded. This met with universal approval. Quinctius at first refused and asked them what they meant by exposing him at the close of his life to such a bitter struggle. At last, after well-merited commendations were showered upon him from all parts of the House and he was assured that "in that aged mind there was not only more wisdom but more courage than in all the rest," whilst the consul adhered to his decision, he yielded. After a prayer to heaven that in such a time of danger his old age might not prove a source of harm or discredit to the republic, Cincinnatus was made Dictator. He appointed Caius Servilius Ahala as his Master of the Horse.
[4.14]The next day, after posting guards at different points, he came down to the Forum. The novelty and mystery of the thing drew the attention of the plebs towards him. Maelius and his confederates recognised that this tremendous power was directed against them, whilst those who knew nothing of the plot asked what disturbance or sudden outbreak of war called for the supreme authority of a Dictator or required Quinctius, after reaching his eightieth year, to assume the government of the republic. Servilius, the Master of the Horse, was despatched by the Dictator to Maelius with the message: "The Dictator summons you." Alarmed at the summons, he inquired what it meant. Servilius explained that he had to stand his trial and clear himself of the charge brought against him by Minucius in the senate. On this Maelius retreated amongst his troop of adherents, and looking round at them began to slink away, when an officer by order of the Master of the Horse seized him and began to drag him away. The bystanders rescued him, and as he fled he implored "the protection of the Roman plebs," and said that he was the victim of a conspiracy amongst the patricians, because he had acted generously towards the plebs. He entreated them to come to his help in this terrible crisis, and not suffer him to be butchered before their eyes. Whilst he was making these appeals, Servilius overtook him and slew him. Besprinkled with the dead man's blood, and surrounded by a troop of young patricians, he returned to the Dictator and: reported that Maelius after being summoned to appear before him had driven away his officer and incited the populace to riot, and had now met with the punishment he deserved. "Well done!" said the Dictator, "C. Servilius, you have delivered the republic."
[4.15]The populace did not know what to make of the deed and were becoming excited. The Dictator ordered them to be summoned to an Assembly. He declared that Maelius had been lawfully slain, even if he were guiltless of treason, because he had refused to come to the Dictator when summoned by the Master of the Horse. He, Cincinnatus, had sat to investigate the case, after it had been investigated Maelius would have been treated in accordance with the result. He was not to be dealt with like an ordinary citizen. For, though born amongst a free people under laws and settled rights, in a City from which he knew that royalty had been expelled, and in the very same year, the sons of the king's sister, children of the consul who liberated his country, had, on the discovery of a conspiracy for restoring royalty, been beheaded by their own father - a City from which Collatinus Tarquin the consul had been ordered to lay down his office and go into exile, because the very name of Tarquin was detested - a City in which some years later Spurius Cassius had been punished for entertaining designs of sovereignty - a City in which recently the decemvirs had been punished by confiscation, exile, and death because of a tyranny as despotic as that of kings - in that City Maelius had conceived hopes of sovereignty! And who was this man? Although no nobility of birth, no honours, no services to the State paved the way for any man to sovereign power, still it was their consulships, their decemvirates, the honours achieved by them and their ancestors and the splendour of their families that raised the ambitions of the Claudii and the Cassii to an impious height. But Spurius Maelius, to whom the tribuneship of the plebs was a thing to be wished for rather than hoped for, a wealthy corn-factor, hoped to buy the liberty of his fellow-citizens for a couple of pounds of spelt, and imagined that by throwing a little corn to them he could reduce to slavery the men who had conquered all the neighbouring States, and that he whom the State could hardly stomach as a senator would be tolerated as a king, possessing the power and insignia of Romulus, who had sprung from the gods and been carried back to the gods! His act must be regarded as a portent quite as much as a crime; for that portent his blood was not sufficient expiation, those walls within which such madness had been conceived must be levelled to the ground, and his property, contaminated by the price of treason, confiscated to the State.
[4.16]So far the Dictator. He then gave orders for the house to be forthwith razed to the ground, that the place where it stood might be a perpetual reminder of impious hopes crushed. It was afterwards called the Aequimaelium. L. Minucius was presented with the Image of a golden ox set up outside the Trigeminan gate. As he distributed the corn which had belonged to Maelius at the price of one "as" per bushel, the plebs raised no objection to his being thus honoured. I find it stated in some authorities that this Minucius went over from the patricians to the plebeians and after being co-opted as an eleventh tribune quelled a disturbance which arose in consequence of the death of Maelius. It is, however, hardly credible that the senate would have allowed this increase in the number of the tribunes, or that such a precedent, above all others, should have been introduced by a patrician, or that if that concession had been once made, the plebs should not have adhered to it, or at all events tried to do so. But the most conclusive refutation of the lying inscription on his image is to be found in a provision of the law passed a few years previously that it should not be lawful for tribunes to co-opt a colleague. Q. Caecilius, Q. Junius, and Sex. Titinius were the only members of the college of tribunes who did not support the proposal to honour Minucius, and they never ceased to attack Minucius and Servilius in turn before the Assembly and charge them with the undeserved death of Maelius. They succeeded in securing the creation of military tribunes instead of consuls at the next election, for they felt no doubt that for the six vacancies - that number could now be elected - some of the plebeians, by giving out that they would avenge the death of Maelius, would be elected. But in spite of the excitement amongst the plebeians owing to the numerous commotions through the year, they did not create more than three tribunes with consular powers; amongst them L. Quinctius the son of the Cincinnatus who as Dictator incurred such odium that it was made the pretext for disturbances. Mam. Aemilius polled the highest number of votes, L. Julius came in third.
[4.17]During their magistracy Fidenae, where a body of Romans were settled, revolted to Lars Tolumnius, king of the Veientines. The revolt was made worse by a crime. C. Fulcinius, Cloelius Tullus, Sp. Antius, and L. Roscius, who were sent as envoys to ascertain the reasons for this change of policy, were murdered by order of Tolumnius. Some try to exculpate the king by alleging that whilst playing at dice he made a lucky throw and used an ambiguous expression which might be taken to be an order for death, and that the Fidenates took it so, and this was the reason of the death of the envoys. This is incredible; it is impossible to believe that when the Fidenates, his new allies, came to consult him as to committing a murder in defiance of the law of nations, he should not have turned his thoughts from the game, or should afterwards have imputed the crime to a misunderstanding. It is much more probable that he wished the Fidenates to be implicated in such an awful crime in order to make it impossible for them to hope for any reconciliation with Rome. The statues of the murdered envoys were set up in the Rostra. Owing to the proximity of the Veientines and Fidenates, and still more to the heinous crime with which they began the war, the struggle threatened to be a desperate one. Anxiety for the national safety kept the plebs quiet, and their tribunes raised no difficulties in the election of M. Geganius Macerinus as consul for the third time, and L. Sergius Fidenas, who, I believe, was so called from the war which he afterwards conducted. He was the first who fought a successful action with the king of Veii on this side of the Anio. The victory he gained was by no means a bloodless one; there was more mourning for their countrymen who were lost than joy over the defeat of the enemy. Owing to the critical aspect of affairs, the senate ordered Mamercus Aemilius to be proclaimed Dictator. He chose as his Master of the Horse L. Quinctius Cincinnatus, who had been his colleague in the college of consular tribunes the previous year, a young man worthy of his father. To the force levied by the consuls were added a number of war-seasoned veteran centurions, to fill up the number of those lost in the late battle. The Dictator ordered Quinctius Capitolinus and M. Fabius Vibulanus to accompany him as seconds in command. The higher power of the Dictator, wielded by a man quite equal to it, dislodged the enemy from Roman territory and sent him across the Anio. He occupied the line of hills between Fidenae and the Anio, where he entrenched himself, and did not go down into the plains until the legions of Falerii had come to his support. Then the camp of the Etruscans was formed in front of the walls of Fidenae. The Roman Dictator chose a position not far from them at the junction of the Anio and the Tiber, and extended his lines as far as possible from the one river to the other. The next day he led his men out to battle.
[4.18]Amongst the enemy there was diversity of opinion. The men of Falerii, impatient at serving so far from home, and full of self-confidence, demanded battle; those of Veii and Fidenae placed more hope in a prolongation of the war. Although Tolumnius was more inclined to the opinion of his own men, he announced that he would give battle the next day, in case the Faliscans should refuse to serve through a protracted campaign. This hesitation on the part of the enemy gave the Dictator and the Romans fresh courage. The next day, whilst the soldiers were declaring that unless they had the chance of fighting they would attack the enemy's camp and city, both armies advanced on to the level ground between their respective camps. The Veientine general, who was greatly superior in numbers, sent a detachment round the back of the hills to attack the Roman camp during the battle. The armies of the three States were stationed thus: The Veientines were on the right wing, the Faliscans on the left, the Fidenates in the centre. The Dictator led his right wing against the Faliscans, Capitolinus Quinctius directed the attack of the left against the Veientines, whilst the Master of the Horse advanced with his cavalry against the enemy's centre. For a few moments all was silent and motionless, as the Etruscans would not commence the fight unless they were compelled, and the Dictator was watching the Citadel of Rome and waiting for the agreed signal from the augurs as soon as the omens should prove favourable. No sooner had he caught sight of it than he let loose the cavalry, who, raising a loud battle-cry, charged; the infantry followed with a furious onslaught. In no quarter did the legions of Etruria stand the Roman charge; their cavalry offered the stoutest resistance, and the king, himself by far the bravest of them, charged the Romans whilst they were scattered everywhere in pursuit of the enemy, and so prolonged the contest.
[4.19]There was in the cavalry, on that day, a military tribune named A. Cornelius Cossus, a remarkably handsome man, and equally distinguished for strength and courage, and proud of his family name, which, illustrious as it was when he inherited it, was rendered still more so when he left it to his posterity. When he saw the Roman squadrons shaken by the repeated charges of Tolumnius in whatever direction he rode, and recognised him as he galloped along the entire line, conspicuous in his royal habiliments, he exclaimed, "Is this the breaker of treaties between man and man, the violator of the law of nations? If it is the will of heaven that anything holy should exist on earth, I will slay this man and offer him as a sacrifice to the manes of the murdered envoys." Putting spurs to his horse he charged with levelled spear against this single foe, and having struck and unhorsed him, he leaped with the aid of his spear to the ground. As the king was attempting to rise he pushed him back with the boss of his shield, and with repeated spear-thrusts pinned him to the earth. Then he despoiled the lifeless body, and cutting off his head stuck it on his spear, and carrying it in triumph routed the enemy, who were panic-struck at the king's death. So the enemy's cavalry, who had alone made the issue of the contest doubtful, now shared in the general rout. The Dictator hotly pursued the flying legions and drove them to their camp with great slaughter. Most of the Fidenates, who were familiar with the country, escaped to the hills. Cossus with the cavalry crossed the Tiber and brought to the City an enormous amount of booty from the country of the Veientines. During the battle there was also an engagement at the Roman camp with the detachment which, as already stated, Tolumnius had sent to attack it. Fabius Vibulanus at first confined himself to the defence of the circuit of his lines; then, while the enemy's attention was wholly directed to forcing the stockade, he made a sortie from the Porta Principalis on the right, and this unexpected attack produced such consternation among the enemy, that though there were fewer killed, owing to the smaller number engaged, the flight was just as disorderly as in the main battle.
[4.20]Successful in all directions, the Dictator returned home to enjoy the honour of a triumph granted him by decree of the senate and resolution of the people. By far the finest sight in the procession was Cossus bearing the spolia opima of the king he had slain. The soldiers sang rude songs in his honour and placed him on a level with Romulus. He solemnly dedicated the spoils to Jupiter Feretrius, and hung them in his temple near those of Romulus, which were the only ones which at that time were called spolia opima prima. All eyes were turned from the chariot of the Dictator to him; he almost monopolised the honours of the day. By order of the people, a crown of gold, a pound in weight, was made at the public expense and placed by the Dictator in the Capitol as an offering to Jupiter. In stating that Cossus placed the spolia opima secunda in the temple of Jupiter Feretrius when he was a military tribune I have followed all the existing authorities. But not only is the designation of spolia opima restricted to those which a commander-in-chief has taken from a commander-in-chief - and we know of no commander-in-chief but the one under whose auspices the war is conducted - but I and my authorities are also confuted by the actual inscription on the spoils, which states that Cossus took them when he was consul. Augustus Caesar, the founder and restorer of all the temples, rebuilt the temple of Jupiter Feretrius, which had fallen to ruin through age, and I once heard him say that after entering it he read that inscription on the linen cuirass with his own eyes. After that I felt it would be almost a sacrilege to withhold from Cossus the evidence as to his spoils given by the Caesar who restored that very temple. Whether the mistake, if there be one, may have arisen from the fact that the ancient annals, and the "Linen Rolls" - the lists of magistrates preserved in the temple of Moneta which Macer Licinius frequently quotes as authorities - have an A. Cornelius Cossus as consul with T. Quinctius Poenus, ten years later - of this every man must judge for himself. For there is this further reason why so famous a battle could not be transferred to this later date, namely, that during the three years which preceded and followed the consulship of Cossus war was impossible owing to pestilence and famine, so that some of the annals, as though they were records of deaths, supply nothing but the names of the consuls. The third year after his consulship has the name of Cossus as a consular tribune, and in the same year he is entered as Master of the Horse, in which capacity he fought another brilliant cavalry action. Every one is at liberty to form his own conjecture; these doubtful points, in my belief, can be made to support any opinion. The fact remains that the man who fought the battle placed the newly-won spoils in the sacred shrine near Jupiter himself, to whom they were consecrated, and with Romulus in full view - two witnesses to be dreaded by any forger - and that he described himself in the inscription as "A. Cornelius Cossus, Consul."
[4.21]M. Cornelius Maluginensis and L. Papirius Crassus were the next consuls. Armies were led into the territories of the Veientines and Faliscans and men and cattle were carried off. The enemy was nowhere found in the open, nor was there any opportunity of fighting. Their cities, however, were not attacked, for the people were visited by an epidemic. Spurius Maelius, a tribune of the plebs, tried to get up disturbances, but failed to do so. Relying upon the popularity of the name he bore, he had impeached Minucius and brought forward a proposal for the confiscation of the property of Servilius Ahala on the plea that Maelius had been the victim of false charges by Minucius, whilst Servilius had been guilty of putting a citizen to death without trial. The people paid less attention to these accusations than even to their author; they were much more concerned about the increasing virulence of the epidemic and the terrifying portents; most of all about the reports of frequent earthquakes which laid the houses in the country districts in ruins. A solemn supplication, therefore, was offered up by the people, led by the duumvirs. The following year, in which the consuls were C. Julius, for the second time, and L. Verginius, was still more fatal, and created such alarming desolation in town and country that no plundering parties left Roman territory, nor did either senate or plebs entertain any idea of taking the offensive. The Fidenates, however, who had at first confined themselves to their mountains and walled villages, actually came down into the Roman territory and ravaged it. As the Faliscans could not be induced to renew the war, either by the representations of their allies or by the fact that Rome was prostrated by the epidemic, the Fidenates sent to invite the Veientine army, and the two States crossed the Anio and displayed their standards not far from the Colline gate. The alarm was as great in the City as in the country districts. The consul Julius disposed his troops on the rampart and the walls; Verginius convened the senate in the temple of Quirinus. They decreed that Q. Servilius should be nominated Dictator. According to one tradition he was surnamed Priscus, according to another, Structus. Verginius waited till he could consult his colleague; on gaining his consent, he nominated the Dictator at night. The Dictator appointed Postumius Aebutius Helva as Master of the Horse.
[4.22]The Dictator issued an order for all to muster outside the Colline gate by daybreak. Every man strong enough to bear arms was present. The standards were quickly brought to the Dictator from the treasury. While these arrangements were being made, the enemy withdrew to the foot of the hills. The Dictator followed them with an army eager for battle, and engaged them not far from Nomentum. The Etruscan legions were routed and driven into Fidenae; the Dictator surrounded the place with lines of circumvallation. But, owing to its elevated positron and strong fortifications, the city could not be carried by assault, and a blockade was quite ineffective, for there was not only corn enough for their actual necessities, but even for a lavish supply from what had been stored up beforehand. So all hope of either storming the place or starving it into surrender was abandoned. As it was near Rome, the nature of the ground was well known, and the Dictator was aware that the side of the city remote from his camp was weakly fortified owing to its natural strength. He determined to carry a mine through from that side to the citadel. He formed his army into four divisions, to take turns in the fighting, and by keeping up a constant attack upon the walls in all directions, day and night, he prevented the enemy from noticing the work. At last the hill was tunnelled through and the way lay open from the Roman camp up to the citadel. Whilst the attention of the Etruscans was being diverted by feigned attacks from their real danger, the shouts of the enemy above their heads showed them that the city was taken. In that year the censors C. Furius Pacilus and M. Geganius Macerinus passed the government building on the Campus Martius, and the census of the people was made there for the first time.
[4.23]I find in Macer Licinius that the same consuls were re-elected for the following year - Julius for the third time and Verginius for the second. Valerius Antias and Q. Tubero give M. Manlius and Q. Sulpicius as the consuls for that year. In spite of this discrepancy Tubero and Macer both claim the authority of the "Linen Rolls"; both admit that in the ancient historians it was asserted that there were military tribunes that year. Licinius considers that we ought unhesitatingly to follow the "Linen Rolls"; Tubero has not made up his mind. But amongst the many points obscure through lapse of time, this also is left unsettled. The capture of Fidenae created alarm in Etruria. Not only were the Veientines apprehensive of a similar fate, but the Faliscans too had not forgotten the war which they had commenced in alliance with them, though they had taken no part in its renewal. The two States sent round envoys to the twelve cantons, and in compliance with their request a meeting was proclaimed of the national council of Etruria, to be held at the temple of Voltumna. As a great struggle seemed imminent, the senate ordered that Mamercus Aemilius should be again nominated Dictator. A. Postumius Tubertus was appointed Master of the Horse. Preparations for war were made with all the greater energy now than on the last occasion, as the danger to be apprehended from the whole of Etruria was greater than from only two of its towns
[4.24]The occasion passed off more quietly than anybody expected. Information was brought by traders that help had been refused to the Veientines; they were told to prosecute with their own resources a war which they had commenced on their own initiative, and not, now that they were in difficulties, to look for allies amongst those whom in their prosperity they refused to take into their confidence. The Dictator was now deprived of any opportunity of acquiring fame in war, but he was anxious to achieve some work which might be a memorial of his dictatorship and prevent it from appearing an unnecessary appointment, so he made preparations for abridging the censorship, either because he considered its power excessive, or because he objected not so much to the greatness as the length of duration of the office. Accordingly he convened the Assembly and said that as the gods had undertaken the conduct of the State in external affairs and made everything safe, he would do what required to be done within the walls, and take counsel for the liberties of the Roman people. Those liberties were most securely guarded when those who held great powers did not hold them long, and when offices which could not be limited in their jurisdiction were limited in their tenure. Whilst the other magistracies were annual, the censorship was a quinquennial one. It was a distinct grievance to have to live at the mercy of the same men for so many years, in fact for a considerable part of one's life. He was going to bring in a law that the censorship should not last longer than eighteen months. He carried the law the next day amidst the enthusiastic approval of the people, and then made the following announcement: "That you may really know, Quirites, how much I disapprove of prolonged rule, I now lay down my dictatorship." After thus resigning his own magistracy and limiting the other one, he was escorted home amidst the hearty good-will and congratulations of the people. The censors were extremely angry with Mamercus for having limited the power of a Roman magistrate, they struck him out of his tribe, increased his assessment eightfold, and disfranchised him. It is recorded that he bore this most magnanimously, thinking more of the cause which led to the ignominy being inflicted upon him than of the ignominy itself. The leading men amongst the patricians, though disapproving of the limitation imposed on the censorial jurisdiction, were shocked at this instance of the harsh exercise of its power, for each recognised that he would be subject to the censors more frequently and for a longer time than he would be censor himself. At all events the people, it is said, felt so indignant that no one but Mamercus possessed sufficient authority to protect the censors from violence.
[4.25]The tribunes of the plebs held constant meetings of the Assembly with a view to preventing the election of consuls, and after bringing matters almost to the appointment of an interrex, they succeeded in getting consular tribunes elected. They looked for plebeians to be elected as a reward for their exertions, but not a single one came in; all who were elected were patricians. Their names were M. Fabius Vibulanus, M. Folius, and L. Sergius Fidenas. The pestilence that year kept everything quiet. The duumvirs did many things prescribed by the sacred books to appease the wrath of the gods and remove the pestilence from the people. The mortality, notwithstanding, was heavy both in the City and in the country districts; men and beasts alike perished. Owing to the losses amongst the cultivators of the soil, a famine was feared as the result of the pestilence, and agents were despatched to Etruria and the Pomptine territory and Cumae, and at last even to Sicily, to procure corn. No mention was made of the election of consuls; consular tribunes were appointed, all patricians. Their names were L. Pinarius Mamercus, L. Furius Medullinus, and Sp. Postumius Albus. In this year the violence of the epidemic abated and there was no scarcity of corn, owing to the provision that had been made. Projects of war were discussed in the national councils of the Volscians and Aequi, and in Etruria at the temple of Voltumna. There the question was adjourned for a year and a decree was passed that no council should be held till the year had elapsed, in spite of the protests of the Veientines, who declared that the same fate which had overtaken Fidenae was threatening them.
At Rome, meantime, the leaders of the plebs, finding that their cherished hopes of higher dignity were futile whilst there was peace abroad, got up meetings in the houses of the tribunes, where they discussed their plans in secret. They complained that they had been treated with such contempt by the plebs, that though consular tribunes had now been elected for many years, not a single plebeian had ever found his way to that office. Their ancestors had shown much foresight in taking care that the plebeian magistracies should not be open to patricians, otherwise they must have had patricians as tribunes of the plebs, for so insignificant were they in the eyes of their own order that they were looked down upon by plebeians quite as much as by the patricians. Others threw the blame on the patricians, it was owing to their unscrupulous cleverness in pushing their canvassing that the path to honour was closed to the plebeians. If the plebs were allowed a respite from their menaces and entreaties, they would think of their own party when they went to vote, and by their united efforts would win office and power. It was decided that, with a view to doing away with the abuses of canvassing, the tribunes should bring in a law forbidding any one to whiten his toga, when he appeared as a candidate. To us now the matter may appear trivial and hardly worth serious discussion, but it kindled a tremendous conflict between patricians and plebeians. The tribunes, however, succeeded in carrying their law, and it was clear that, irritated as they were, the plebeians would support their own men. That they might not be free to do so, a resolution was passed in the senate that the forthcoming elections should be held for the appointment of consuls.
[4.26]The reason for this decision was the report sent in by the Latins and Hernicans of a sudden rising amongst the Volscians and Aequi. T. Quinctius Cincinnatus - surnamed Poenus - the son of Lucius, and Gnaeus Julius Mento were made consuls. War very soon broke out. After a levy had been raised under the Lex Sacrata, which was the most powerful means they possessed of compelling men to serve, the armies of both nations advanced and concentrated on Algidus, where they entrenched themselves, each in a separate camp. Their generals showed greater care than on any previous occasion in the construction of their lines and the exercising of the troops. The reports of this increased the alarm in Rome. In view of the fact that these two nations after their numerous defeats were now renewing the war with greater energy than they had ever done before, and, further, that a considerable number of the Romans fit for active service had been carried off by the epidemic, the senate decided upon the nomination of a Dictator. But the greatest alarm was caused by the perverse obstinacy of the consuls and their incessant wranglings in the senate. Some authorities assent that these consuls fought an unsuccessful action at Algidus and that this was the reason why a Dictator was nominated. It is at all events generally agreed that whilst at variance in other matters, they were at one in opposing the senate and preventing the appointment of a Dictator. At last, when each report that came in was more alarming than the last, and the consuls refused to accept the authority of the senate, Quintus Servilius Priscus, who had filled the highest offices in the State with distinction, said, "Tribunes of the plebs! now that matters have come to extremities, the senate calls upon you in this crisis of the commonwealth, by virtue of the authority of your office, to compel the consuls to nominate a Dictator."
On hearing this appeal, the tribunes considered that a favourable opportunity presented itself for augmenting their authority, and they retired to deliberate. Then they formally declared in the name of the whole college of tribunes that it was their determination that the consuls should bow to the will of the senate; if they offered any further opposition to the unanimous decision of that most august order, they, the tribunes, would order them to be thrown into prison. The consuls preferred defeat at the hands of the tribunes rather than at those of the senate. If, they said, the consuls could be coerced by the tribunes in virtue of their authority, and even sent to prison - and what more than this had ever a private citizen to fear? - then the senate had betrayed the rights and privileges of the highest office in the State, and made an ignominious surrender, putting the consulship under the yoke of the tribunitian power. They could not even agree as to who should nominate the Dictator, so they cast lots and the lot fell to T. Quinctius. He nominated A. Postumius Tubertus, his father-in-law, a stern and resolute commander. The Dictator named L. Julius as the Master of the Horse. Orders were issued for a levy to be raised and for all business, legal and otherwise, to be suspended in the City, except the preparations for war. The investigation of claims for exemption from military service was postponed till the end of the war, so even in doubtful cases men preferred to give in their names. The Hernici and the Latins were ordered to furnish troops; both nations carried out the Dictator's orders most zealously.
[4.27]All these preparations were completed with extraordinary despatch. The consul Gn. Julius was left in charge of the defences of the City; L. Julius, the Master of the Horse, took command of the reserves to meet any sudden emergency, and to prevent operations from being delayed through inadequacy of supplies at the front. As the war was such a serious one, the Dictator vowed, in the form of words prescribed by the Pontifex Maximus, A. Cornelius, to celebrate the Great Games if he were victorious. He formed the army into two divisions, one of which he assigned to the consul Quinctius, and their joint force advanced up to the enemies' position. As they saw that the hostile camps were separated by a short distance from each other, they also formed separate camps, about a mile from the enemy, the Dictator fixing his in the direction of Tusculum, the consul nearer Lanuvium. The four armies had thus separate entrenched positions, with a plain between them broad enough not only for small skirmishes, but for both armies to be drawn out in battle order. Ever since the camps had confronted each other there had been no cessation of small fights, and the Dictator was quite content for his men to match their strength against the enemy, in order that through the issues of these contests they might entertain the hope of a decisive and final victory. The enemy, hopeless of winning a regular battle, determined to stake everything on the chances of a night attack on the consul's camp. The shout which suddenly arose not only startled the consul's outposts and the whole army, but even woke the Dictator. Everything depended on prompt action; the consul showed equal courage and coolness; part of his troops reinforced the guards at the camp gates, the rest lined the entrenchments. As the Dictator's camp was not attacked, it was easier for him to see what had to be done. Supports were at once sent to the consul under Sp. Postumius Albus, lieutenant-general, and the Dictator in person with a portion of his force made for a place away from the actual fighting, from which to make an attack on the enemy's rear. He left Q. Sulpicius, lieutenant-general, in charge of the camp, and gave the command of the cavalry to M. Fabius, lieutenant-general, with orders not to move their troops before daylight, as it was difficult to handle them in the confusion of a night attack. Besides taking every measure which any other general of prudence and energy would have taken under the circumstances, the Dictator gave a striking instance of his courage and generalship, which deserves especial praise, for, on ascertaining that the enemy had left his camp with the greater part of his force, he sent M. Geganius with some picked cohorts to storm it. The defenders were thinking more of the issue of their comrades' dangerous enterprise than of taking precautions for their own safety, even their outposts and picket-duty were neglected, and he stormed and captured the camp almost before the enemy realised that it was attacked. When the Dictator saw the smoke - the agreed signal - he called out that the enemy's camp was taken, and ordered the news to be spread everywhere.
[4.28]It was now growing light and everything lay open to view. Fabius had delivered his attack with the cavalry and the consul had made a sortie against the enemy, who were now wavering. The Dictator from the other side had attacked the second line of reserves, and whilst the enemy faced about to meet the sudden charges and confused shouts, he had thrown his victorious horse and foot across their front. They were now hemmed in, and would, to a man, have paid the penalty for renewing the war, had not a Volscian, Vettius Messius, a man more distinguished by his exploits than by his pedigree, remonstrated loudly with his comrades, who were being rolled up into a helpless mass. "Are you going," he shouted, "to make yourselves a mark for the enemies' javelins, unresisting, defenceless? Why then have you got arms, why did you begin an unprovoked war; you who are ever turbulent in peace and laggards in war? What do you expect to gain by standing here? Do you suppose that some deity will protect you and snatch you out of danger? A path must be made by the sword. Come on in the way you see me go. You who are hoping to visit your homes and parents and wives and children, come with me. It is not a wall or a stockade which is in your way; arms are met by arms. Their equals in courage, you are their superiors by force of necessity, which is the last and greatest weapon." He then rushed forward and his men followed him, raising again their battle-shout, and flung the weight of their charge where Postumius Albus had interposed his cohorts. They forced the victors back, until the Dictator came up to his retreating men, and all the battle rolled to this part of the field. The fortunes of the enemy rested solely on Messius. Many were wounded, many killed in all directions. By this time even the Roman generals were not unhurt. Postumius, whose skull was fractured by a stone, was the only one who left the field. The Dictator was wounded in the shoulder, Fabius had his thigh almost pinned to his horse, the consul had his arm cut off, but they refused to retire while the battle was undecided.
[4.29]Messius with a body of their bravest troops charged through heaps of slain and was carried on to the Volscian camp, which was not yet taken; the entire army followed. The consul followed them up in their disordered flight as far as the stockade and began to attack the camp, whilst the Dictator brought up his troops to the other side of it. The storming of the camp was just as furious as the battle had been. It is recorded that the consul actually threw a standard inside the stockade to make the soldiers more eager to assault it, and in endeavouring to recover it the first breach was made. When the stockade was torn down and the Dictator had now carried the fighting into the camp, the enemy began everywhere to throw away their arms and surrender. After the capture of this camp, the enemy, with the exception of the senators, were all sold as slaves. A part of the booty comprised the plundered property of the Latins and Hernicans, and after being identified, was restored to them, the rest the Dictator sold "under the spear". After placing the consul in command of the camp, he entered the City in triumph and then laid down his dictatorship. Some writers have cast a gloom over the memory of this glorious dictatorship by handing down a tradition that the Dictator's son, who, seeing an opportunity for fighting to advantage, had left his post against orders, was beheaded by his father, though victorious. I prefer to disbelieve the story, and am at liberty to do so, as opinions differ. An argument against it is that such cruel displays of authority are called "Manlian" not "Postumian," for it is the first man who practiced such severity to whom the stigma would have been affixed. Moreover, Manlius received the soubriquet of "Imperiosus"; Postumius was not distinguished by any invidious epithet. The other consul, C. Julius, dedicated the temple of Apollo in his colleague's absence, without waiting to draw lots with him as to who should do it. Quinctius was very angry at this, and after he had disbanded his army and returned to the City, he laid a protest before the senate, but nothing came of it. In this year so memorable for great achievements an incident occurred which at the time seemed to have little to do with Rome. Owing to disturbances amongst the Sicilians, the Carthaginians, who were one day to be such powerful enemies, transported an army into Sicily for the first time to assist one of the contending parties.
[4.30]In the City the tribunes made great efforts to secure the election of consular tribunes for the next year, but they failed. L. Papirius Crassus and L. Julius were made consuls. Envoys came from the Aequi to ask from the senate a treaty as between independent States; instead of this they were offered peace on condition they acknowledged the supremacy of Rome; they obtained a truce for eight years. After the defeat which the Volscians had sustained on Algidus, their State was distracted by obstinate and bitter quarrels between the advocates of war and those of peace. There was quiet for Rome in all quarters. The tribunes were preparing a popular measure to fix the scale of fines, but one of their body betrayed the fact to the consuls, who anticipated the tribunes by bringing it in themselves. The new consuls were L. Sergius Fidenas, for the second time, and Hostius Lucretius Tricipitinus. Nothing worth recording took place in their consulship. They were followed by A. Cornelius Cossus, and T. Quinctius Poenus for the second time. The Veientines made inroads into the Roman territory, and it was rumoured that some of the Fidenates had taken part in them. L. Sergius, Q. Servilius, and Mamercus Aemilius were commissioned to investigate the affair. Some were interned at Ostia, as they were unable to account satisfactorily for their absence from Fidenae at that time. The number of colonists was increased, and the lands of those who had perished in the war were assigned to them.
Very great distress was caused this year by a drought. Not only was there an absence of water from the heavens, but the earth, through lack of its natural moisture, barely sufficed to keep the rivers flowing. In some cases the want of water made the cattle die of thirst round the dried-up springs and brooks, in others they were carried off by the mange. This disease spread to the men who had been in contact with them; at first it attacked the slaves and agriculturists, then the City was infected. Nor was it only the body that was affected by the pest, the minds of men also became a prey to all kinds of superstitions, mostly foreign ones. Pretended soothsayers went about introducing new modes of sacrificing, and did a profitable trade amongst the victims of superstition, until at last the sight of strange un-Roman modes of propitiating the wrath of the gods in the streets and chapels brought home to the leaders of the commonwealth the public scandal which was being caused. The aediles were instructed to see to it that none but Roman deities were worshipped, nor in any other than the established fashion. Hostilities with the Veientines were postponed till the following year, when Caius Servilius Ahala and L. Papirius Mugilanus were the consuls. Even then the formal declaration of war and the despatch of troops were delayed on religious grounds; it was considered necessary that the fetials should first be sent to demand satisfaction. There had been recent battles with the Veientines at Nomentum and Fidenae, and a truce had been made, not a lasting peace, but before the days of truce had expired they had renewed hostilities. The fetials, however, were sent, but when they presented their demands, in accordance with ancient usage, they were refused a hearing. A question then arose whether war should be declared by the mandate of the people, or whether a resolution passed by the senate was sufficient. The tribunes threatened to stop the levying of troops and succeeded in forcing the consul Quinctius to refer the question to the people. The centuries decided unanimously for war. The plebs gained a further advantage in preventing the election of consuls for the next year.
[4.31]Four consular tribunes were elected - T. Quinctius Poenus, who had been consul, C. Furius, M. Postumius, and A. Cornelius Cossus. Cossus was warden of the City, the other three after completing the levy advanced against Veii, and they showed how useless a divided command is in war. By each insisting on his own plans, when they all held different views, they gave the enemy his opportunity. For whilst the army was perplexed by different orders, some giving the signal to advance, whilst the others ordered a retreat, the Veientines seized the opportunity for an attack. Breaking into a disorderly flight, the Romans sought refuge in their camp which was close by; they incurred more disgrace than loss. The commonwealth, unaccustomed to defeat, was plunged in grief; they hated the tribunes and demanded a Dictator; all their hopes rested on that. Here too a religious impediment was met with, as a Dictator could only be nominated by a consul. The augurs were consulted and removed the difficulty. A. Cornelius nominated Mamercus Aemilius as Dictator, he himself was appointed by him Master of the Horse. This proved how powerless the action of the censors was to prevent a member of a family unjustly degraded from being entrusted with supreme control when once the fortunes of the State demanded real courage and ability. Elated by their success, the Veientines sent envoys round to the cantons of Etruria, boasting that three Roman generals had been defeated by them in a single battle. As, however, they could not induce the national council to join them, they collected from all quarters volunteers who were attracted by the prospect of booty. The Fidenates alone decided to take part in the war, and as though they thought it impious to begin war otherwise than with a crime, they stained their weapons with the blood of the new colonists, as they had previously with the blood of the Roman ambassadors. Then they joined the Veientines. The chiefs of the two peoples consulted whether they should make Veii or Fidenae the base of operations. Fidenae appeared the more suitable; the Veientines accordingly crossed the Tiber and transferred the war to Fidenae.
[4.32]Very great was the alarm in Rome. The army, demoralised by its ill-success, was recalled from Veii; an entrenched camp was formed in front of the Colline gate, the walls were manned, the shops and law courts closed, and a cessation of all business in the Forum ordered. The whole City wore the appearance of a camp. The Dictator despatched criers through the streets to summon the anxious citizens to an Assembly. When they were gathered together he reproached them for allowing their feelings to be so swayed by slight changes of fortune that, after meeting with an insignificant reverse, due not to the courage of the enemy or the cowardice of the Roman army, but simply to want of harmony amongst the generals, they should be in a state of panic over the Veientines, who had been defeated six times, and Fidenae, which had been captured almost more frequently than it had been attacked. Both the Romans and the enemy were the same that they had been for so many centuries, their courage, their prowess, their arms were what they had always been. They had as Dictator the same Mamercus Aemilius who at Nomentum defeated the combined forces of Veii and Fidenae supported by the Faliscans; the Master of the Horse would in future battles be the same A. Cornelius who killed Lars Tolumnius, king of Veii, before the eyes of the two armies and carried the spolia opima to the temple of Jupiter Feretrius. They must take up arms, remembering that on their side were triumphs and the spoils of victory, on the side of the enemy, the crime against the law of nations in the assassination of the ambassadors and the massacre of the colonists at Fidenae in a time of peace, a broken truce, a seventh unsuccessful revolt - remembering all this, they must take up arms. When once they were in touch with their enemy, he was confident that the guilt-stained foe would not long rejoice over the disgrace that had overtaken the Roman army, and the people of Rome would see how much better service was rendered to the republic by those who had, for the third time nominated him Dictator, than by those who had cast a slur upon his second dictatorship because he had deprived the censors of their autocratic power.
After reciting the usual vows, he marched out and fixed his camp a mile and a half on this side of Fidenae, with the hills on his right and the Tiber on his left. He ordered T. Quinctius to secure the hills and to seize, by a concealed movement, the ridge in the enemies' rear. On the following day, the Etruscans advanced to battle in high spirits at their success the previous day, which had been due rather to good luck than good fighting. After waiting a short time till the scouts reported that Quinctius had gained the height near the citadel of Fidenae, the Dictator ordered the attack and led the infantry at a quick double against the enemy. He gave instructions to the Master of the Horse not to begin fighting till he got orders; when he needed the assistance of the cavalry he would give him the signal, then he must take his part in the action, inspired by the memory of his combat with Tolumnius, of the spolia opima, and of Romulus and Jupiter Feretrius. The legions charged with great impetuosity. The Romans expressed their burning hatred in words as much as in deeds; they called the Fidenates "traitors," the Veientines "brigands," "breakers of truces," "stained with the horrible murder of the ambassadors and the blood of Roman colonists," "faithless as allies, cowardly as soldiers."
[4.33]The enemy were shaken at the very first onset, when suddenly the gates of Fidenae were flung open and a strange army sallied forth, never seen or heard of before. An immense multitude, armed with firebrands, and all waving blazing torches, rushed like men possessed on the Roman line. For a moment this extraordinary mode of fighting put the Romans into a fright. Then the Dictator called up the Master of the Horse with his cavalry, and sent to order Quinctius back from the hills, whilst he himself, encouraging his men, rode up to the left wing, which looked more like a conflagration than a body of combatants, and had given way through sheer terror at the flames. He shouted to them: "Are you overcome with smoke, like a swarm of bees? Will you let an unarmed enemy drive you from your ground? Will you not put the fire out with your swords? If you must fight with fire, not with arms, will you not snatch those torches away and attack them with their own weapons? Come! remember the name of Rome and the courage you have inherited from your fathers; turn this fire upon the enemies' city, and destroy with its own flames the Fidenae which you could not conciliate by your kindness. The blood of ambassadors and colonists, your fellow-countrymen, and the devastation of your borders call upon you to do this."
At the Dictator's command the whole line advanced; some of the torches were caught as they were thrown, others were wrenched from the bearers; both armies were armed with fire. The Master of the Horse, too, on his part, invented a new mode of fighting for his cavalry. He ordered his men to take the bits off the horses, and, giving his own horse his head and putting spurs to it, he was carried into the midst of the flames, whilst the other horses, urged into a hard gallop, carried their riders against the enemy. The dust they raised, mixed with the smoke, blinded both horses and men. The sight which had terrified the infantry had no terrors for the horses. Wherever the cavalry moved they left the slain in heaps. At this moment fresh shouts were heard, creating astonishment in both armies. The Dictator called out that Quinctius and his men had attacked the enemy in the rear, and on the shouts being renewed, he pressed his own attack with more vigour. When the two bodies in two distinct attacks had forced the Etruscans back both in front and rear and hemmed them in, so that there was no way of escape either to their camp or to the hills - for in that direction the fresh enemy had intercepted them - and the horses, with their reins loose, were carrying their riders about in all directions, most of the Veientines made a wild rush for the Tiber; the survivors amongst the Fidenates made for their city. The flight of the terrified Veientines carried them into the midst of slaughter, some were killed on the banks, others were driven into the river and swept away by the current; even good swimmers were carried down by wounds and fright and exhaustion, few out of the many got across. The other body made their way through their camp to their city with the Romans in close pursuit, especially Quinctius and his men, who had just come down from the hills, and having arrived towards the close of the struggle, were fresher for the work.
[4.34]The latter entered the gates pell-mell with the enemy, and as soon as they had mounted the walls they signalled to their friends that the city was taken. The Dictator had now reached the enemies' abandoned camp, and his soldiers were anxious to disperse in quest of booty, but when he saw the signal he reminded them that there was richer spoil in the city, and led them up to the gate. Once within the walls he proceeded to the citadel, toward which he saw the crowd of fugitives rushing. The slaughter in the city was not less than there had been in the battle, until, throwing down their arms, they surrendered to the Dictator and begged that at least their lives might be spared. The city and camp were plundered. The following day the cavalry and centurions each received one prisoner, selected by lot, as their slave, those who had shown conspicuous gallantry, two; the rest were sold "under the chaplet." The Dictator led back in triumph to Rome his victorious army laden with spoil. After ordering the Master of the Horse to resign his office, he resigned office himself on the sixteenth day after his nomination, surrendering amidst peace the sovereign power which he had assumed at a time of war and danger. Some of the annalists have recorded a naval engagement with the Veientines at Fidenae, an incident as difficult as it is incredible. Even to-day the river is not broad enough for this, and we learn from ancient writers that it was narrower then. Possibly, in their desire for a vain-glorious inscription, as often happens, they magnified a gathering of ships to prevent the passage of the river into a naval victory.
[4.35]The following year had for consular tribunes A. Sempronius Atratinus, L. Quinctius Cincinnatus, L. Furius Medullinus, and L. Horatius Barbatus. A truce for eighteen years was granted to the Veientines and one for three years to the Aequi, though they had asked for a longer one. There was also a respite from civic disturbances. The following year, though not marked by either foreign war or domestic troubles, was rendered memorable by the celebration of the Games vowed on the occasion of the war seven years before, which were carried out with great magnificence by the consular tribunes, and attended by large numbers from the surrounding cities. The consular tribunes were Ap. Claudius Crassus, Spurius Nautius Rutilus, L. Sergius Fidenas, and Sex. Julius Julus. The spectacle was made more attractive to the visitors by the courteous reception which it had been publicly decided to give them. When the Games were over, the tribunes of the plebs began to deliver inflammatory harangues. They reproached the populace for allowing their stupid admiration of those whom they really hated to keep them in perpetual servitude. Not only did they lack the courage to claim their share in the chance of preferment to the consulship, but even in the election of consular tribunes, which was open to both patricians and plebeians, they never thought of their tribunes or their party. They need be no longer surprised that no one interested himself in the welfare of the plebs. Toil and danger were incurred for those objects from which profit and honour might be expected. There was nothing which men would not attempt if rewards were held out proportionate to the greatness of the effort. But that any tribune of the plebs should rush blindly into contests which involved enormous risks and brought no advantage, which he might be certain would make the patricians whom he opposed persecute him with relentless fury, whilst amongst the plebeians on whose behalf he fought he would not be in the slightest degree more honoured, was a thing neither to be expected nor demanded. Great honours made great men. When the plebeians began to be respected, every plebeian would respect himself. Surely they might now try the experiment in one or two cases, to prove whether any plebeian is capable of holding high office, or whether it would be little short of a miracle for any one sprung from the plebs to be at the same time a strong and energetic man. After a desperate fight, they had secured the election of military tribunes with consular powers, for which plebeians were eligible. Men of tried ability, both at home and in the field, became candidates. For the first few years they were knocked about, rejected, treated with derision by the patricians; at last they declined to expose themselves to these affronts. They saw no reason why a law should not be repealed which simply legalised what would never happen. They would have less to be ashamed of in the injustice of the law than in being passed over in the elections as though unworthy to hold office.
[4.36]Harangues of this sort were listened to with approval, and some were induced to stand for a consular tribuneship, each of them promising to bring in some measure in the interest of the plebs. Hopes were held out of a division of the State domain and the formation of colonies, whilst money was to be raised for the payment of the soldiers by a tax on the occupiers of the public land. The consular tribunes waited till the usual exodus from the City allowed a meeting of the senate to be held in the absence of the tribunes of the plebs, the members who were in the country being recalled by private notice. A resolution was passed that owing to rumours of an invasion of the Hernican territory by the Volscians the consular tribunes should go and find out what was happening, and that at the forthcoming elections consuls should be chosen. On their departure they left Appius Claudius, the son of the decemvir, to act as warden of the City, a young man of energy, and imbued from his infancy with a hatred of the plebs and its tribunes. The tribunes had nothing on which to raise a contest either with the consular tribunes, who were absent, the authors of the decree, or with Appius, as the matter had been settled.
[4.37]The consuls elected were C. Sempronius Atratinus and Q. Fabius Vibulanus. There is recorded under this year an incident which occurred in a foreign country, but still important enough to be mentioned, namely, the capture of Volturnus, an Etruscan city, now called Capua, by the Samnites. It is said to have been called Capua from their general, but it is more probable that it was so called from its situation in a champaign country (campus). It was after the Etruscans, weakened by a long war, had granted them a joint occupancy of the city and its territory that they seized it. During a festival, whilst the old inhabitants were overcome with wine and sleep, the new settlers attacked them in the night and massacred them. After the proceedings described in the last chapter, the above-named consuls entered on office in the middle of December. By this time intelligence as to the imminence of a Volscian war had been received not only from those who had been sent to investigate, but also from the Latins and Hernicans, whose envoys reported that the Volscians were devoting greater energy than they had ever done before to the selection of their generals and the levying of their forces. The general cry amongst them was that either they must consign all thoughts of war to eternal oblivion and submit to the yoke, or else they must in courage, endurance, and military skill be a match for those with whom they were fighting for supremacy.
These reports were anything but groundless, but not only did the senate treat them with comparative indifference, but C. Sempronius, to whom that field of operations had fallen, imagined that as he was leading the troops of a victorious people against those whom they had vanquished, the fortune of war could never change. Trusting to this, he displayed such rashness and negligence in all his measures that there was more of the Roman discipline in the Volscian army than there was in the Roman army itself. As often happens, fortune waited upon desert. In the very first battle Sempronius made his dispositions without plan or forethought, the fighting line was not strengthened by reserves, nor were the cavalry placed in a suitable position. The war-cries were the first indication as to how the action was going; that of the enemy was more animated and sustained; on the side of the Romans the irregular, intermittent shout, growing feebler at each repetition, betrayed their waning courage. Hearing this, the enemy attacked with greater vigour, pushed with their shields and brandished their swords. On the other side their helmets drooped as the men looked round for supports; men wavered and faltered and crowded together for mutual protection; at one moment the standards while holding their ground were abandoned by the front rank, the next they retreated between their respective maniples. As yet there was no actual flight, no decided victory. The Romans were defending themselves rather than fighting, the Volscians were advancing, forcing back their line; they saw more Romans slain than flying.
[4.38]Now in all directions they were giving way; in vain did Sempronius the consul remonstrate and encourage, neither his authority nor his dignity was of any avail. They would soon have been completely routed had not Tempanius, a decurio of cavalry, retrieved by his ready courage the desperate position of affairs. He shouted to the cavalry to leap down from their horses if they wished the commonwealth to be safe, and all the troops of cavalry followed his direction as though it were the order of the consul. "Unless," he continued, "this bucklered cohort check the enemies' attack, there is an end of our sovereignty. Follow my spear as your standard! Show Romans and Volscians alike that no cavalry are a match for you as cavalry, no infantry a match for you as infantry!" This stirring appeal was answered by shouts of approval, and he strode on, holding his spear erect. Wherever they went they forced their way; holding their bucklers in front, they made for that part of the field where they saw their comrades in the greatest difficulty; in every direction where their onset carried them, they restored the battle, and undoubtedly, if so small a body could have attacked the entire line at once, the enemy would have been routed.
[4.39]As it was impossible to check them in any direction, the Volscian commander gave a signal for a passage to be opened for this novel cohort of targeteers, until by the impetus of their charge they should be cut off from the main body. As soon as this happened, they were unable to force their way back in the same directional they had advanced, as the enemy had massed in the greatest force there. When the consul and the Roman legions no longer saw anywhere the men who had just been the shield of the whole army, they endeavoured at all risks to prevent so many brave fellows from being surrounded and overwhelmed by the enemy. The Volscians formed two fronts, in one direction they met the attack of the consul and the legions, from the opposite front they pressed upon Tempanius and his troopers. As these latter after repeated attempts found themselves unable to break through to their main body, they took possession of some rising ground, and forming a circle defended themselves, not without inflicting losses on the enemy. The battle did not terminate till nightfall. The consul too kept the enemy engaged without any slackening of the fight as long as any light remained. Night at last put an end to he indecisive action, and through ignorance as to the result such a panic seized each of the camps that both armies, thinking themselves defeated, left their wounded behind and the greater part of their baggage and retired to the nearest hills. The eminence, however, which Tempanius had seized was surrounded till after midnight, when it was announced to the enemy that their camp was abandoned. Looking upon this as a proof that their army was defeated, they fled in all directions wherever their fears carried them in the darkness. Tempanius, fearing a surprise, kept his men together till daylight. Then he came down with a few of his men to reconnoitre, and after ascertaining from the enemies' wounded that the Volscian camp was abandoned, he joyfully called his men down and made his way to the Roman camp. Here he found a dreary solitude; everything presented the same miserable spectacle as in the enemies' camp. Before the discovery of their mistake could bring the Volscians back again, he collected all the wounded he could carry with him, and as he did not know what direction the Dictator had taken, proceeded by the most direct road to the City.
[4.40]Rumours of an unfavourable battle and the abandonment of the camp had already been brought. Most of all was the fate of the cavalry deplored, the whole community felt the loss as keenly as their families. There was general alarm throughout the City, and the consul Fabius was posting pickets before the gates when cavalry were descried in the distance. Their appearance created alarm, as it was doubtful who they were; presently they were recognised, and the fears gave place to such great joy that the City rang with shouts of congratulation at the cavalry having returned safe and victorious. People flocked into the streets out of houses which had just before been in mourning and filled with wailings for the dead; anxious mothers and wives, forgetting decorum in their joy, ran to meet the column of horsemen, each embracing her own friends and hardly able to control mind or body for joy. The tribunes of the plebs had appointed a day for the trial of M. Postumius and T. Quinctius on the ground of their ill-success at Veii, and they thought it a favourable opportunity for reviving the public feeling against them through the odium now incurred by Sempronius. Accordingly they convened the Assembly, and in excited tones declared that the commonwealth had been betrayed at Veii by their generals, and in consequence of their not having been called to account, the army acting against the Volscians had been betrayed by the consul, their gallant cavalry had been given over to slaughter, and the camp had been disgracefully abandoned. C. Junius, one of the tribunes, ordered Tempanius to be called forward. He then addressed him as follows: "Sextus Tempanius, I ask you, would you consider that the consul Caius Sempronius commenced the action at the fitting moment, or strengthened his line with supports, or discharged any of the duties of a good consul? When the Roman legions were worsted, did you on your own authority dismount the cavalry and restore the fight? And when you and the cavalry were cut off from our main body, did the consul render any assistance or send you succour? Further, did you on the following day receive any reinforcements, or did you and the cohort force your way to the camp by your own bravery? Did you find any consul, any army in the camp, or did you find it abandoned and the wounded soldiers left to their fate? Your honour and loyalty, which have alone sustained the commonwealth in this war, require you to state these things today. Lastly, where is Caius Sempronius? where are our legions? Were you deserted, or have you deserted the consul and the army? In a word, are we defeated, or have we been victorious?"
[4.41]The speech which Tempanius made in reply is said to have been unpolished, but marked by soldierly dignity, free from the vanity of self-praise, and showing no pleasure in the inculpation of others. "It was not," he said, "a soldier's place to criticise his commander, or judge how much military skill he possessed; that was for the Roman people to do when they elected him consul. They must not therefore demand of him what tactics a commander should adopt, or what military capacity a consul should display; these were matters which even great minds and intellects would have to weigh very carefully. He could, however, relate what he saw. Before he was cut off from the main body he saw the consul fighting in the front line, encouraging his men, going to and fro between the Roman standards and the missiles of the enemy. After he, the speaker, was carried out of sight of his comrades, he knew from the noise and shouting that the combat was kept up till night; and he did not believe that a way could have been made to the eminence which he had occupied, owing to the numbers of the enemy. Where the army was he knew not; he thought that as he found protection for himself and his men at a moment of extreme peril in the nature of the ground, so the consul had selected a stronger position for his camp, to save his army. He did not believe that the Volscians were in any better plight than the Romans; the varying fortunes of the fight and the fall of night had led to all sorts of mistakes on both sides." He then begged them not to keep him any longer, as he was exhausted with his exertions and his wounds, and thereupon was dismissed amidst loud praises of his modesty no less than his courage. Whilst this was going on the consul had reached the Labican road and was at the chapel of Quies. Wagons and draught-cattle were despatched thither from the City for the conveyance of the army, who were worn out by the battle and night march. Shortly afterwards the consul entered the City, quite as anxious to give Tempanius the praise he so well deserved as to remove the blame from his own shoulders. Whilst the citizens were mourning over their reverses and angry with their generals, M. Postumius, who as consular tribune had commanded at Veii, was brought before them for trial. He was sentenced to a fine of 10,000 "ases." His colleague, T. Quinctius, who had been successful against the Volscians under the auspices of the Dictator Postumius Tubertus, and at Fidenae as second in command under the other Dictator, Mam. Aemilius, threw all the blame for the disaster at Veii on his colleague who had been previously sentenced. He was acquitted by the unanimous vote of the tribes. It is said that the memory of his venerated father, Cincinnatus, stood him in good stead, as also did the now aged Capitolinus Quinctius, who earnestly entreated them not to allow him, with so brief a span of life left to him, to be the bearer of such sad tidings to Cincinnatus.
[4.42]The plebs elected as their tribunes, in their absence, Sex. Tempanius, A. Sellius, Sextus Antistius, and Sp. Icilius, all of whom had, on the advice of Tempanius, been selected by the cavalry to act as centurions. The exasperation against Sempronius made the very name of consul offensive, the senate therefore ordered consular tribunes to be elected. Their names were L. Manlius Capitolinus, Q. Antonius Merenda, and L. Papirius Mugilanus. At the very beginning of the year, L. Hortensius, a tribune of the plebs, appointed a day for the trial of C. Sempronius, the consul of the previous year. His four colleagues begged him, publicly, in full view of the Roman people, not to prosecute their unoffending commander, against whom nothing but ill-luck could be alleged. Hortensius was angry, for he looked upon this as an attempt to test his resolution, he regarded the entreaties of the tribunes as meant simply to save appearances, and he was convinced that it was not to these the consul was trusting, but to their interposing their veto. Turning to Sempronius he asked: "Where is your patrician spirit, and the courage which is supported by the consciousness of innocence? An ex-consul actually sheltering under the wing of the tribunes!" Then he addressed his colleagues: "You, what will you do, if I carry the prosecution through? Are you going to deprive the people of their jurisdiction and subvert the power of the tribunes?" They replied that the authority of the people was supreme over Sempronius and over everybody else; they had neither the will nor the power to do away with the people's right to judge, but if their entreaties on behalf of their commander, who was a second father to them, proved unavailing, they would appear by his side in suppliant garb. Then Hortensius replied: "The Roman plebs shall not see its tribunes in mourning; I drop all proceedings against C. Sempronius, since he has succeeded, during his command, in becoming so dear to his soldiers." Both plebeians and patricians were pleased with the loyal affection of the four tribunes, and quite as much so with the way in which Hortensius had yielded to their just remonstrances.
[4.43]The consuls for the next year were Numerius Fabius Vibulanus and T. Quinctius Capitolinus, the son of Capitolinus. The Aequi had claimed the doubtful victory of the Volscians as their own, but fortune no longer favoured them. The campaign against them fell to Fabius, but nothing worth mention took place. Their dispirited army had but shown itself when it was routed and put to a disgraceful flight, without the consul gaining much glory from it. A triumph was in consequence refused him, but as he had removed the disgrace of Sempronius' defeat he was allowed to enjoy an ovation. As, contrary to expectation, the war had been brought to a close with less fighting than had been feared, so in the City the calm was broken by unlooked-for and serious disturbances between the plebs and the patricians. It began with the doubling of the number of quaestors. It was proposed to create in addition to the two City quaestors two others to assist the consuls in the various duties arising from a state of war. When this proposal was laid by the consuls before the senate and had received the warm support of that body, the tribunes of the plebs insisted that half the number should be taken from the plebeians; up to that time only patricians had been chosen. This demand was at first opposed most resolutely by the consuls and the senate; afterwards they yielded so far as to allow the same freedom of choice in the election of quaestors as the people already enjoyed in that of consular tribunes. As they gained nothing by this, they dropped the proposal to augment the number altogether. The tribunes took it up, and many revolutionary proposals, including the Agrarian Law, were set on foot in quick succession. In consequence of these commotions the senate wanted consuls to be elected rather than tribunes, but owing to the veto of the tribunes a formal resolution could not be carried, and on the expiry of the consuls' year of office an interregnum followed, and even this did not happen without a tremendous struggle, for the tribunes vetoed any meeting of the patricians.
The greater part of the following year was wasted in contests between the new tribunes of the plebs and some of the interreges. At one time the tribunes would intervene to prevent the patricians from meeting together to appoint an interrex, at another they would interrupt the interrex and prevent him from obtaining a decree for the election of consuls. At last L. Papirius Mugilanus, who had been made interrex, sternly rebuked the senate and the tribunes, and reminded them that upon the truce with Veii and the dilatoriness of the Aequi, and upon these alone, depended the safety of the commonwealth, which was deserted and forgotten by men, but protected by the providential care of the gods. Should any alarm of war sound from that quarter, was it their wish that the State should be taken by surprise while without any patrician magistrate; that there should be no army, no general to enrol one? Were they going to repel a foreign war by a civil one? If both these should come together, the destruction of Rome could hardly be averted even with the help of the gods. Let them rather try to establish concord by making concessions on both sides - the patricians by allowing military tribunes to be elected instead of consuls; the tribunes of the plebs by not interfering with the liberty of the people to elect the four quaestors from patricians or plebeians indiscriminately.
[4.44]The election of consular tribunes was the first to be held. They were all patricians; L. Quinctius Cincinnatus, for the third time, L. Furius Medullinus, for the second, M. Manlius, and A. Sempronius Atratinus. The last-named conducted the election of the quaestors. Amongst other plebeian candidates were the son of Antistius, tribune of the plebs, and a brother of Sextus Pompilius, another tribune. Their authority and interest were not, however, strong enough to prevent the voters from preferring on the ground of their high birth those whose fathers and grandfathers they had seen in the consul's chair. All the tribunes of the plebs were furious, Pompilius and Antistius, more especially, were incensed at the defeat of their relations. "What," they angrily exclaimed, "is the meaning of all this? In spite of our good offices, in spite of the wrongs done by the patricians, with all the freedom you now enjoy of exercising powers you did not possess before, not a single member of the plebs has been raised to the quaestorship, to say nothing of the consular tribuneship! The appeals of a father on behalf of a son, of a brother on behalf of a brother, have been unavailing, though they are tribunes, invested with an inviolable authority to protect your liberties. There has certainly been dishonesty somewhere; A. Sempronius has shown more adroitness than straightforwardness." They accused him of having kept their men out of office by illegal means. As they could not attack him directly, protected as he was by his innocence and his official position, they turned their resentment against Caius Sempronius, the uncle of Atratinus, and having obtained the support of their colleague, M. Canuleius, they impeached him upon the ground of the disgrace incurred in the Volscian war.
These same tribunes frequently mooted the question in the senate of a distribution of the public domain, a proposal which C. Sempronius always stoutly resisted. They thought, and rightly as the event proved, that when the day of trial came, he would either abandon his opposition and so lose influence with the patricians, or by persisting in it give offence to the plebeians. He chose the latter, and preferred to incur the odium of his opponents and injure his own cause than prove false to the cause of the State. He insisted that "there should be no grants of land, which would only increase the influence of the three tribunes; what they wanted now was not land for the plebs, but to wreak their spite upon him. He, like others, would meet the storm with a stout heart; neither he nor any other citizen ought to stand so high with the senate that any leniency shown to an individual might be disastrous to the commonwealth." When the day of trial came there was no lowering of his tone, he undertook his own defence, and though the patricians tried every means to soften the plebeians, he was condemned to pay a fine of 15,000 "ases." In this same year Postumia, a Vestal virgin, had to answer a charge of unchastity. Though innocent, she had given grounds for suspicion through her gay attire and unmaidenly freedom of manner. After she had been remanded and finally acquitted, the Pontifex Maximus, in the name of the whole college of priests, ordered her to abstain from frivolity and to study sanctity rather than smartness in her appearance. In the same year, Cumae, at that time held by the Greeks, was captured by the Campanians.
[4.45]The following year had as consular tribunes Agrippa Menenius Lanatus, P. Lucretius Tricipitinus, and Spurius Nautius Rutilus. Thanks to the good fortune of Rome, the year was marked by serious danger more than by actual disaster. The slaves had formed a plot to fire the City in various spots, and whilst the people were everywhere intent on saving their houses, to take armed possession of the Capitol. Jupiter frustrated their nefarious project; two of their number gave information, and the actual culprits were arrested and punished. The informers received a reward of 10,000 "ases " - a large sum in those days - from the public treasury, and their freedom. After this the Aequi began to prepare for a renewal of hostilities, and it was reported on good authority at Rome that a new enemy, the Labicans, were forming a coalition with their old foes. The commonwealth had come to look upon hostilities with the Aequi as almost an annual occurrence. Envoys were sent to Labici. The reply they brought back was evasive; it was evident that whilst there were no immediate preparations for war, peace would not last long. The Tusculans were requested to be on the watch for any fresh movement on the part of the Labicans. The consular tribunes for the following year were Lucius Sergius Fidenas, M. Papirius Mugilanus, and C. Servilius, the son of the Priscus in whose dictatorship Fidenae had been taken. At the very beginning of their term of office, envoys came from Tusculum and reported that the Labicans had taken up arms and in conjunction with the Aequi had, after ravaging the Tusculan territory, fixed their camp on Algidus. War was thereupon proclaimed and the senate decreed that two tribunes should leave for the war, and one remain in charge of the City. This at once led to a quarrel amongst the tribunes. Each urged his superior claims to command in the war and looked down upon the charge of the City as distasteful and inglorious. Whilst the senators were watching with astonishment this unseemly strife amongst colleagues, Q. Servilius said, "Since no respect is shown either to this House or to the State, the authority of a father shall put an end to this altercation. My son, without having recourse to lots, shall take charge of the City. I trust that those who are so anxious for the command in the war will conduct it in a more considerate and amicable spirit than they have shown in their eagerness to obtain it."
[4.46]It was decided that the levy should not be raised from the whole population indiscriminately; ten tribes were drawn by lot; from these the two tribunes enlisted the men of military age and led them to the war. The quarrels which had begun in the City became much more heated in the camp through the same eagerness to secure the command. They agreed on no single point, they fought for their own opinions, each wanted his own plans and orders carried out exclusively, they felt mutual contempt for each other. At length, through the remonstrances and reproofs of the lieutenants-general, matters were so far arranged that they agreed to hold the command in chief on alternate days. When this state of things was reported at Rome it is said that Q. Servilius, taught by years and experience, offered up a solemn prayer that the disagreement of the tribunes might not prove more hurtful to the State than it had been at Veii; then, as though disaster were undoubtedly impending, he urged his son to enrol troops and prepare arms. He was not a false prophet.
It happened to be the turn of L. Sergius to hold command, and the enemy by a pretended flight had drawn his troops on to unfavourable ground close to their camp, in the vain hope of storming it. Then the Aequi made a sudden charge and drove them down a steep valley where numbers were overtaken and killed in what was not so much a flight as a tumbling over each other. It was with difficulty that they held their camp that day; the next day, after the enemy had surrounded a considerable part of it, they evacuated it in a disgraceful flight through the rear gate. The commanders and lieutenants-general and as much of the army as remained with the standards made for Tusculum, the others, straggling in all directions through the fields, hurried on to Rome and spread the news of a more serious defeat than had been actually incurred. There was less consternation felt because the result was what every one had feared and the reinforcements which they could look to in the hour of danger had been got ready beforehand by the consular tribune. By his orders, after the excitement had been allayed by the inferior magistrates, scouting parties were promptly sent out to reconnoitre, and they reported that the generals and the army were at Tusculum, and that the enemy had not shifted his camp. What did most to restore confidence was the nomination, by a senatorial decree, of Q. Servilius Priscus as Dictator. The citizens had had previous experience of his political foresight in many stormy crises, and the issue of this war afforded a fresh proof, for he alone suspected danger from the differences of the tribunes before the disaster occurred. He appointed as his Master of the Horse the tribune by whom he had been nominated Dictator, namely, his own son. This at least is the statement of some authorities, others say that Ahala Servilius was Master of the Horse that year. With his fresh army he proceeded to the seat of war, and after recalling the troops who were at Tusculum, he selected a position for his camp two miles distant from the enemy.
[4.47]The arrogance and carelessness which the Roman generals had shown had now passed over to the Aequi in the hour of their success. The result appeared in the very first battle. After shaking the enemies' front with a cavalry charge, the Dictator ordered the standards of the legions to be rapidly advanced, and as one of his standard-bearers hesitated, he slew him. So eager were the Romans to engage that the Aequi did not stand the shock. Driven from the field in headlong flight they made for their camp; the storming of the camp took less time and involved less fighting than the actual battle. The spoils of the captured camp the Dictator gave up to the soldiers. The cavalry who had pursued the enemy as they fled from the camp brought back intelligence that the whole of the defeated Labicans and a large proportion of the Aequi had fled to Labici. On the morrow the army marched to Labici, and after the town was completely invested it was captured and plundered. After leading his victorious army home, the Dictator laid down his office just a week after he had been appointed. Before the tribunes of the plebs had time to get up an agitation about the division of the Labican territory, the senate in a full meeting passed a resolution that a body of colonists should be settled at Labici. One thousand five hundred colonists were sent, and each received two jugera of land. In the year following the capture of Labici the consular tribunes were Menenius Lanatus, L. Servilius Structus, P. Lucretius Tricipitinus - each for the second time - and Spurius Veturius Crassus. For the next year they were A. Sempronius Atratinus - for the third time - and M. Papirius Mugilanus and Sp. Nautius Rutilus - each for the second time. During these two years foreign affairs were quiet, but at home there were contentions over the agrarian laws.
[4.48]The fomenters of the disturbance were Sp. Maecilius, who was tribune of the plebs for the fourth time, and M. Metilius, tribune for the third time; both had been elected in their absence. They brought forward a measure providing that the territory taken from an enemy should be assigned to individual owners. If this were passed the fortunes of a large number of the nobility would be confiscated. For as the City itself was founded upon foreign soil, it possessed hardly any territory which had not been won by arms, or which had become private property by sale or assignment beyond what the plebeians possessed. There seemed every prospect of a bitter conflict between the plebs and the patricians. The consular tribunes, after discussing the matter in the senate and in private gatherings of patricians, were at a loss what to do, when Appius Claudius, the grandson of the old decemvir and the youngest senator present, rose to speak. He is represented as saying that he was bringing from home an old device well known to his house. His grandfather, Appius Claudius, had pointed out to the senate the only way of breaking down the power of the tribunes, namely, through the interposition of their colleagues' veto. Men who had risen from the masses were easily induced to change their opinions by the personal authority of the leaders of the State if only they were addressed in language suitable to the occasion rather than to the rank of the speaker. Their feelings changed with their fortunes. When they saw that those of their colleagues who were the first to propose any measure took the whole credit of it with the plebs and left no place for them, they would feel no hesitation in coming over to the cause of the senate, and so win the favour not only of the leaders but of the whole order. His views met with universal approval; Q. Servilius Priscus was the first to congratulate the youth on his not having degenerated from the old Claudian stock. The leaders of the senate were charged to persuade as many tribunes as they could to interpose their veto. After the close of the sitting they canvassed the tribunes. By the use of persuasion, warning, and promises, they showed how acceptable that action would be to them individually and to the whole senate. They succeeded in bringing over six.
The next day, in accordance with a previous understanding, the attention of the senate was drawn to the agitation which Maecilius and Metilius were causing by proposing a bribe of the worst possible type. Speeches were delivered by the leaders of the senate, each in turn declaring that he was unable to suggest any course of action, and saw no other resource but the assistance of the tribunes. To the protection of that power the State in its embarrassment, like a private citizen in his helplessness, fled for succour. It was the glory of the tribunes and of the authority they wielded that they possessed as much strength to withstand evil-minded colleagues as to harass the senate and create dissension between the two orders. Cheers arose from the whole senate and the tribunes were appealed to from every quarter of the House. When silence was restored, those tribunes who had been won over made it clear that since the senate was of opinion that the proposed measure tended to the break-up of the republic, they should interpose their veto on it. They were formally thanked by the senate. The proposers of the measure convened a meeting in which they showered abuse on their colleagues, calling them "traitors to the interests of the plebs" and "slaves of the consulars," with other insulting epithets. Then they dropped all further proceedings.
[4.49]The consular tribunes for the following year were P. Cornelius Cossus, C. Valerius Potitus, Q. Quinctius Cincinnatus, and Numerius Fabius Vibulanus. There would have been two wars this year if the Veientine leaders had not deferred hostilities owing to religious scruples. Their lands had suffered from an inundation of the Tiber chiefly through the destruction of their farm buildings. The Bolani, a people of the same nationality as the Aequi, had made incursions into the adjoining territory of Labici and attacked the newly-settled colonists, in the hope of averting the consequences by receiving the unanimous support of the Aequi. But the defeat they had sustained three years before made them disinclined to render assistance; the Bolani, abandoned by their friends, lost both town and territory after a siege and one trifling engagement in a war which is not even worth recording. An attempt was made by L. Sextius, a tribune of the plebs, to carry a measure providing that colonists should be sent to Bolae as they had been to Labici, but it was defeated by the intervention of his colleagues, who made it clear that they would not allow any resolution of the plebs to take effect except on the authorisation of the senate.
The consular tribunes for the following year were Cnaeus Cornelius Cossus, L. Valerius Potitus, Q. Fabius Vibulanus - for the second time - and M. Postumius Regillensis. The Aequi recaptured Bolae and strengthened the town by introducing fresh colonists. The war against the Aequi was entrusted to Postumius, a man of violent and obstinate temper, which, however, he displayed more in the hour of victory than during the war. After marching with his hastily-raised army to Bolae and crushing the spirit of the Aequi in some insignificant actions, he at length forced his way into the town. Then he diverted the contest from the enemy to his own fellow-citizens. During the assault he had issued an order that the plunder should go to the soldiers, but after the capture of the town he broke his word. I am led to believe that this was the real ground for the resentment felt by the army rather than that in a city which had been recently sacked and where a new colony had been settled, the amount of booty was less than the tribune had given out. After he had returned to the City on the summons of his colleagues owing to the commotions excited by the tribunes of the plebs, the feeling against him was intensified by a stupid and almost insane utterance in a meeting of the Assembly. Sextius was introducing an agrarian law, and stated that one of its provisions was that colonists be settled at Bolae. "Those," he said, "who had captured Bolae deserved that the city and its territory should belong to them." Postumius exclaimed, "It will be a bad thing for my soldiers if they do not keep quiet." This exclamation was quite as offensive to the senators, when they heard of it, as it was to the Assembly. The tribune of the plebs was a clever man and not a bad speaker; he had now got amongst his opponents a man of insolent temper and hot tongue, whom he could irritate and provoke into saying things which would bring odium not only upon himself, but upon his cause and upon the whole of his order. There was no one amongst the consular tribunes whom he oftener drew into argument before the Assembly than Postumius. After the above quoted coarse and brutal utterance Sextius said, "Do you hear, Quirites, this man threatening his soldiers with punishment, as if they were slaves? Shall this monster appear in your eyes more worthy of his high office than the men who are trying to send you out as colonists to receive as a free gift city and land, and provide a resting-place for your old age; who are fighting gallantly for your interests against such savage and insolent opponents? Now you can begin to wonder why it is that so few take up your cause. What have they to hope for from you? Is it high office? You would rather confer it on your opponents than on the champions of the Roman people. You broke out into indignant murmurs just now when you heard what this man said. What difference does it make? If you had to give your votes now, you would prefer this man who threatens you with punishment to those who want to secure for you lands and houses and property."
[4.50]When this exclamation of Postumius was reported to the soldiers it aroused much more indignation in the camp. "What!" they said, "is the embezzler of the spoils, the robber, actually threatening his soldiers with punishment?" Open as the expressions of resentment were, the quaestor P. Sestius still thought that the excitement could be repressed by the same exhibition of violence by which it had been aroused. A lictor was sent to a soldier who was shouting, this led to uproar and disorder. The quaestor was struck by a stone and got out of the crowd, the man who had hurt him exclaimed that the quaestor had got what the commander had threatened the soldiers. Postumius was sent for to deal with the outbreak; he aggravated the general irritation by the ruthless way in which he made his investigations and the cruelty of the punishments he inflicted. At last, when his rage exceeded all bounds, and a crowd had gathered at the cries of those whom he had ordered to be put to death "under the hurdle," he rushed down from his tribunal in a frenzy to those who were interrupting the execution; the lictors and centurions tried in all directions to disperse the crowd, and drove them to such a pitch of exasperation that the tribune was overwhelmed beneath a shower of stones from his own army. When this dreadful deed was reported at Rome, the consular tribunes urged the senate to order an inquiry into the circumstances of the death of their colleague, but the tribunes of the plebs interposed their veto. That matter was closely connected with another subject of dispute. The senate were apprehensive lest the plebeians, either through dread of an investigation or from feelings of resentment, should elect the consular tribunes from their own body, and they did their utmost accordingly to secure the election of consuls. As the tribunes of the plebs would not allow the senate to pass a decree, and also vetoed the election of consuls, matters passed to an interregnum. The victory rested finally with the senate.
[4.51]Q. Fabius Vibulanus, as interrex, presided over the elections. The consuls elected were A. Cornelius Cossus and L. Furius Medullinus. At the beginning of their year of office, a resolution was adopted by the senate empowering the tribunes to bring before the plebs at the earliest possible date the subject of an inquiry into the circumstances of the death of Postumius, and allowing the plebs to choose whom they would to preside over the inquiry. The plebs by a unanimous vote left the matter to the consuls. They discharged their task with the greatest moderation and clemency; only a few suffered punishment, and there are good grounds for believing that these died by their own hands. They were quite unable, however, to prevent their action from being bitterly resented by the plebeians, who complained that whilst measures brought forward in their own interests were abortive, one which involved the punishment and death of members of their order was meanwhile passed and put into immediate execution. After justice had been meted out for the mutiny, it would have been a most politic step to appease their resentment by distributing the conquered territory of Bolae. Had the senate done this they would have lessened the eagerness for an agrarian law which proposed to expel the patricians from their unjust occupation of the State domains. As it was, the sense of injury was all the keener because the nobility were not only determined to keep the public land, which they already held, by force, but actually refused to distribute the vacant territory recently conquered, which would soon, like everything else, be appropriated by a few. During this year the consul Furius led the legions against the Volscians, who were ravaging the Hernican territory. As they did not find the enemy in that quarter they advanced against Ferentinum, to which place a large number of Volscians had retreated, and took it. There was less booty there than they had expected to find, for as there was little hope of defending the place, the Volscians carried off their property and evacuated it by night. The next day, when captured, it was almost deserted. The town and its territory were given to the Hernici.
[4.52]This year which, owing to the moderation of the tribunes, had been free from disturbances, was followed by one in which L. Icilius was tribune, the consuls being Q. Fabius Ambustus and C. Furius Pacilus. At the very beginning of the year he took up the work of agitation, as though it were the allotted task of his name and family, and announced proposals for dealing with the land question. Owing to the outbreak of a pestilence which, however, created more alarm than mortality, the thoughts of men were diverted from the political struggles of the Forum to their homes and the necessity of nursing the sick. The pestilence was regarded as less baneful than the agrarian agitation would have been. The community escaped with very few deaths considering the very large number of cases. As usually happens, the pestilence brought a famine the following year, owing to the fields lying uncultivated. The new consuls were M. Papirius Atratinus and C. Nautius Rutilus. The famine would have been more fatal than the pestilence had not the scarcity been relieved by the despatch of commissioners to all the cities lying on the Etruscan sea and the Tiber. The Samnites, who occupied Capua and Cumae, refused in insolent terms to have any communication with the commissioners; on the other hand, assistance was generously given by the Sicilian Tyrant. The largest supplies were brought down the Tiber, through the ungrudging exertions of the Etruscans. In consequence of the prevalence of sickness in the republic, the consuls found hardly any men available; as only one senator could be obtained for each commission, they were compelled to attach two knights to it. Apart from the pestilence and the famine, there was no trouble either at home or abroad during these two years, but as soon as these causes of anxiety had disappeared, all the usual sources of disturbance in the commonwealth - dissensions at home, wars abroad - broke out afresh.
[4.53]Manlius Aemilius and C. Valerius Potitus were the new consuls. The Aequi made preparations for war, and the Volscians, without the sanction of their government, took up arms and assisted them as volunteers. On the report of these hostile movements - they had already crossed over into the Latin and Hernican territories - the consul Valerius commenced to levy troops. He was obstructed by M. Menenius, the proposer of an agrarian law, and under the protection of this tribune, no one who objected to serve would take the oath. Suddenly the news came that the citadel of Carventum had been seized by the enemy. This humiliation gave the senate an opening for stirring up popular resentment against Menenius, while it afforded to the other tribunes, who were already prepared to veto his agrarian law, stronger justification for opposing their colleague. A long and angry discussion took place. The consuls called gods and men to witness that Menenius by obstructing the levy was solely responsible for whatever defeat and disgrace at the hands of the enemy had already been incurred or was imminent. Menenius on the other hand loudly protested that if those who occupied the public land would give up their wrongful possession of it, he would place no hindrance in the way of the levy. The nine tribunes put an end to the quarrel by interposing a formal resolution and declaring that it was the intention of the college to support the consul, in spite of their colleague's veto, whether he imposed fines or adopted other modes of coercion on those who refused to serve in the field. Armed with this decree the consul ordered a few who were claiming the tribune's protection to be seized and brought before him; this cowed the rest and they took the oath.
The army was marched to the citadel of Carventum, and though disaffected and embittered against the consul, they no sooner arrived at the place than they drove out the defenders and recaptured the citadel. The attack was facilitated by the absence of some of the garrison, who had through the laxity of their generals stolen away on a plundering expedition. The booty which had been gathered in their incessant raids and stored here for safety was considerable. This the consul ordered to be sold "under the spear," the proceeds to be paid by the quaestors into the treasury. He announced that the army would only have a share in the spoils when they had not declined to serve. This increased the exasperation of the plebs and the soldiers against the consul. The senate decreed him an "ovation," and whilst he made his formal entry into the City, rude verses were bandied by the soldiers with their accustomed licence in which the consul was abused and Menenius extolled in alternate couplets, whilst at every mention of the tribune the voices of the soldiers were drowned in the cheers and applause of the bystanders. This latter circumstance occasioned more anxiety to the senate than the licence of the soldiers, which was almost a regular practice, and as there was no doubt that if Menenius became a candidate he would be elected as a consular tribune, he was shut out by the election of consuls.
[4.54]The two who were elected were Cnaeus Cornelius Cossus and L. Furius Medullinus. On no other occasion had the plebs been more indignant at not being allowed to elect consular tribunes. They showed their indignation in the election of quaestors, and they had their revenge, for that was the first time that plebeians were elected quaestors, and so far did they carry their resentment, that out of the four who were elected one place only was left open for a patrician, viz., Kaeso Fabius Ambustus. The three plebeians, Q. Silius, P. Aelius, and P. Pupius, were chosen in preference to scions of the most illustrious families. It was the Icilii, I find, who induced the people to show this independence at the poll; that family was most bitter against the patricians, and three of its members were elected tribunes for this year by holding out hopes of numerous important reforms on which the people had set their hearts. They declared that they would not take a single step if the people had not sufficient courage even in electing quaestors to secure the end which they had long desired and which the laws had put within their reach, seeing that this was the only office which the senate had left open to patricians and plebeians alike. The plebeians regarded this as a splendid victory; they valued the quaestorship not by what it was in itself, but as opening the path for men who had risen from the ranks to consulships and triumphs. The patricians on the other hand were indignant; they felt that they were not so much giving a share of the honours of the State as losing them altogether. "If," they said, "this is the state of things, children must no longer be reared, since they will only be banished from the station their ancestors filled, and whilst seeing others in possession of the dignity which is theirs by right, they will be left, deprived of all authority and power, to act as Salii or Flamens, with no other duty than that of offering sacrifices for the people." Both parties were exasperated, and as the spirit of the plebs was rising and they had three leaders bearing a name illustrious in the popular cause, the patricians saw that the results of all the elections would be the same as that for quaestors in which the plebs had a free choice. They exerted themselves, therefore, to secure the election of consuls, which was not yet open to both orders; whilst the Icilii on the other hand said that consular tribunes must be elected, and that the highest honours must sooner or later be shared by the plebs.
[4.55]But so far no action had been taken by the consuls to give an opening for obstruction and the wresting of the desired concessions from the patricians. By a marvellous piece of good luck, news came that the Volscians and Aequi had made a predatory inroad into the Latin and Hernican territories. The senate decreed a levy for this war, but when the consuls began to raise it the tribunes vigorously opposed them, and declared that they themselves and the plebs had now got their opportunity. There were three of them, all very energetic, who might be considered of good family as far as plebeians could be. Two of them assumed the task of keeping a close watch on each of the consuls; to the third was assigned the duty of alternately restraining and urging on the plebeians by his harangues. The consuls could not get through with the levy, nor the tribunes with the election which they were so anxious for. Fortune at last took the side of the plebs, for tidings came that whilst the troops who were holding the citadel of Carventum were dispersed in quest of plunder, the Aequi had attacked it, and after killing the few left on guard, had cut to pieces some who were hastening back and others whilst straggling in the fields. This incident, so unfortunate for the State, strengthened the hands of the tribunes. Fruitless attempts were made to induce them in this emergency to desist from opposing the war, but they would not give way either in view of the threatening danger to the State or the odium which might fall upon themselves, and finally succeeded in forcing the senate to pass a decree for the election of consular tribunes. It was, however, expressly stipulated that none of the present tribunes of the plebs should be eligible for that post, or should be re-elected as plebeian tribunes for the next year. This was undoubtedly aimed at the Icilii, whom the senate suspected of aiming at the consulship as a reward for their exertions as tribunes. Then, with the consent of both orders, the levy was raised and preparations for war commenced. Authorities differ as to whether both consuls proceeded to the citadel of Carventum, or whether one remained behind to conduct the elections. There is no dispute, however, as to the Romans retiring from the citadel of Carventum after a long and ineffectual siege, and recovering Verrugo after committing great depredations and securing much booty in both the Volscian and Aequian territories.
[4.56]At Rome, whilst the plebs had been so far victorious as to secure the election which they preferred, the result of that election was a victory for the senate. Contrary to all expectation, three patricians were elected consular tribunes, viz., C. Julius Julus, P. Cornelius Cossus, and C. Servilius Ahala. It was stated that the patricians had recourse to a trick; the Icilii actually accused them of it at the time. They were charged with having introduced a crowd of unsuitable candidates amongst those who were worthy of being elected, and the disgust felt at the notoriously low character of some of these candidates alienated the people from the plebeian candidates as a body. After this a report was received that the Volscians and Aequi were devoting their utmost energies to getting ready for war. Either the fact that they had kept possession of the citadel of Carventum had raised their hopes, or the loss of the detachment at Verrugo had roused their ire. The Antiates were stated to be the prime movers; their ambassadors had gone the round of the cities of both nations reproaching them with cowardice in having skulked behind their walls the year before and allowing the Romans to harry their fields in all directions and the garrison at Verrugo to be destroyed. Not only were armies despatched, but even colonists were being settled in their territories. Not only had the Romans distributed their property amongst themselves, but they had even made a present to the Hernici of Ferentinum, after they had taken it. These reproaches kindled the war spirit in each city as they came to it, and a large number of fighting men were enrolled. A force gathered from all the States was concentrated at Antium; there they fixed their camp and awaited the enemy. These proceedings were reported at Rome, and created greater excitement than the facts warranted, and the senate at once ordered a Dictator to be nominated - the last resource in imminent danger. It is stated that Julius and Cornelius were extremely angry at thus step, and matters proceeded amidst much bitterness on both sides. The leaders of the senate censured the consular tribunes for not recognising the authority of the senate, and finding their protests useless, actually appealed at last to the tribunes of the plebs and reminded them how on a similar occasion their authority had acted as a check on the consuls. The tribunes, delighted at the dissension amongst the senators, said that they could render no assistance to those in whose eyes they were not regarded as citizens or even as men. If the honours of the State were ever open to both orders, and they had their share in the government, then they would take measures to prevent the decisions of the senate from being nullified by the arrogance of any magistrate; till then the patricians, devoid as they were of any respect for magistrates or laws, might deal with the consular tribunes by themselves
[4.57]This controversy preoccupied men's thoughts at a most inopportune moment, when such a serious war was on their hands. At last, after Julius and Cornelius had, one after the other, argued at great length that as they were quite competent to conduct that war, it was unjust to deprive them of the honour which the people had conferred upon them, Ahala Servilius, the other consular tribune, intervened in the dispute. He had, he said, kept silent so long, not because he had any doubt in his own mind, - for what true patriot could separate his own interest from that of the State? - but because he would rather have had his colleagues yield voluntarily to the authority of the senate than allow the power of the plebeian tribunes to be invoked against them. Even now he would have gladly given them time to abandon their unyielding attitude if circumstances allowed. But the necessities of war do not wait on the counsels of men, and the commonwealth was more to him than the goodwill of his colleagues. If, therefore, the senate adhered to its decision, he would nominate a Dictator the next night, and if any one vetoed the passing of a senatorial decree he should be content to act simply on their resolution. By taking this course he won the well-deserved praise and sympathy of all, and after nominating P. Cornelius as Dictator, he was himself appointed Master of the Horse. He furnished an example to his colleagues, as they compared his position with their own, of the way in which high office and popularity come sometimes most readily to those who do not covet them. The war was far from being a memorable one. The enemy were defeated with great slaughter at Antium in a single easily-won battle. The victorious army devastated the Volscian territory. The fort at Lake Fucinus was stormed, and the garrison of 3000 men taken prisoners, whilst the rest of the Volscians were driven into their walled towns, leaving their fields at the mercy of the enemy. After making what use he could of Fortune's favours in the conduct of the war, the Dictator returned home with more success than glory and laid down his office. The consular tribunes waived all proposals for the election of consuls - owing, I believe, to their resentment at the appointment of a Dictator - and issued orders for the election of consular tribunes. This increased the anxiety of the senators, for they saw that their cause was being betrayed by men of their own party. Accordingly, as in the previous year they had excited disgust against all plebeian candidates, however worthy, by means of those who were perfectly worthless, so now the leaders of the senate appeared as candidates, surrounded by everything that could lend distinction or strengthen personal influence. They secured all the places and prevented the entrance of any plebeian. Four were elected, all of whom had previously held office, viz., L. Furius Medullinus, C. Valerius Potitus, N. Fabius Vibulanus, and C. Servilius Ahala. The latter owed his continuance in office to the popularity he had won by his singular moderation as much as to his other merits.
[4.58]During this year the armistice with Veii expired, and ambassadors and fetials were sent to demand satisfaction. When they reached the frontier they were met by a deputation from Veii, who begged them not to go there before they themselves had an audience of the Roman senate. They obtained from the senate the withdrawal of the demand for satisfaction, owing to the internal troubles from which Veii was suffering. So far were the Romans from seeking their opportunity in the misfortunes of others! A disaster was incurred on Volscian ground in the loss of the garrison at Verrugo. So much depended here upon a few hours that the soldiers who were being besieged by the Volscians and begging for assistance could have been relieved if prompt measures had been taken. As it was, the relieving force only arrived in time to surprise the enemy, who, fresh from the massacre of the garrison, were scattered in quest of plunder. The responsibility for the delay rested more with the senate than with the consular tribunes; they heard that the garrison were offering a most determined resistance, and they did not reflect that there are limits to human strength which no amount of courage can transcend. The gallant soldiers were not unavenged either in their lives or their deaths.
The following year the consular tribunes were P. Cornelius Cossus, Cnaeus Cornelius Cossus, Numerius Fabius Ambustus, and L. Valerius Potitus. Owing to the action of the senate of Veii, a war with that city was threatened. The envoys whom Rome had sent to demand satisfaction received the insolent reply that unless they speedily departed from the city and crossed the frontiers the Veientines would give them what Lars Tolumnius had given. The senate were indignant and passed a decree that the consular tribunes should bring before the people at the earliest possible day a proposal to declare war against Veii. No sooner was the subject brought forward than the men who were liable for service protested. They complained that the war with the Volscians had not been brought to a close, the garrisons of two forts had been annihilated, and the forts, though recaptured, were held with difficulty, there was not a single year in which there was not fighting, and now, as if they had not enough work on hand, they were preparing for a fresh war with a most powerful neighbour who would rouse the whole of Etruria. This disaffection amongst the plebs was fanned by their tribunes, who were continually giving out that the most serious war was the one going on between the senate and the plebs, who were purposely harassed by war and exposed to be butchered by the enemy and kept as it were in banishment far from their homes lest the quiet of city life might awaken memories of their liberties and lead them to discuss schemes for distributing the State lands amongst colonists and securing a free exercise of their franchise. They got hold of the veterans, counted up each man's campaigns and wounds and scars, and asked what blood was still left in him which could be shed for the State. By raising these topics in public speeches and private conversations they produced amongst the plebeians a feeling of opposition to the projected war. The subject was therefore dropped for the time, as it was evident that in the then state of opinion it would, if brought forward, be rejected.
[4.59]Meantime the consular tribunes decided to lead the army into the territory of the Volscians; Cnaeus Cornelius was left in charge of the City. The three tribunes ascertained that there was no camp of the Volscians anywhere, and that they would not risk a battle, so they divided into three separate forces to ravage the country. Valerius made Antium his objective; Cornelius, Ecetrae. Wherever they marched they destroyed the homesteads and crops far and wide to divide the forces of the Volscians. Fabius marched to Anxur, which was the chief objective, without losing time in devastating the country. This city is now called Terracina; it was built on the side of a hill and sloped down to the marshes. Fabius made a show of attacking the city on that side. Four cohorts were despatched with C. Servilius Ahala by a circuitous route to seize the hill which overhung the town on the other side. After doing so they made an attack amidst loud shouts and uproar from their higher position upon that part of the town where there was no defence. Those who were holding the lower part of the city against Fabius were stupefied with astonishment at the noise, and this gave him time to plant his scaling ladders. The Romans were soon in all parts of the city, and for some time a ruthless slaughter went on of fugitives and fighters, armed and unarmed alike. As there was no hope of quarter, the defeated enemy were compelled to keep up the fight, till suddenly an order was issued that none but those taken with arms should be injured. On this the whole of the population threw down their arms; prisoners to the number of 2500 were taken. Fabius would not allow his men to touch the other spoils of war until the arrival of his colleagues, for those armies too had taken their part in the capture of Anxur, since they had prevented the Volscians from coming to its relief. On their arrival the three armies sacked the town, which, owing to its long-continued prosperity, contained much wealth. This generosity on the part of the generals was the first step towards the reconciliation of the plebs and the senate. This was followed by a boon which the senate, at a most opportune moment, conferred on the plebeians. Before the question was mooted either by the plebs or their tribunes, the senate decreed that the soldiery should receive pay from the public treasury. Previously, each man had served at his own expense.
[4.60]Nothing, it is recorded, was ever welcomed by the plebs with such delight; they crowded round the Senate-house, grasped the hands of the senators as they came out, acknowledged that they were rightly called "Fathers," and declared that after what they had done no one would ever spare his person or his blood, as long as any strength remained, for so generous a country. They saw with pleasure that their private property at all events would rest undisturbed at such times as they were impressed and actively employed in the public service, and the fact of the boon being spontaneously offered, without any demand on the part of their tribunes, increased their happiness and gratitude immensely. The only people who did not share the general feeling of joy and goodwill were the tribunes of the plebs. They asserted that the arrangement would not turn out such a pleasant thing for the senate or such a benefit to the whole community as they supposed. The policy was more attractive at first sight than it would prove in actual practice. From what source, they asked, could the money be raised; except by imposing a tax on the people? They were generous at other people's expense. Besides, those who had served their time would not, even if the rest approved, permit others to serve on more favourable terms than they themselves had done and after having had to provide for their own expenses, now provide for those of others. These arguments influenced some of the plebeians. At last, after the tax had been imposed, the tribunes actually gave notice that they would protect any one who refused to contribute to the war tax. The senators were determined to uphold a measure so happily inaugurated, they were themselves the first to contribute, and as coined money was not yet introduced, they carried the copper by weight in wagons to the treasury, thereby drawing public attention to the fact of their contributing. After the senators had contributed most conscientiously the full amount at which they were assessed, the leading plebeians, personal friends of the nobles, began, as had been agreed, to pay in their share. When the crowd saw these men applauded by the senate and looked up to by the men of military age as patriotic citizens, they hastily rejected the proffered protection of the tribunes and vied with one another in their eagerness to contribute. The proposal authorising the declaration of war against Veii was carried, and the new consular tribunes marched thither an army composed to a large extent of men who volunteered for service.
[4.61]These tribunes were T. Quinctius Capitolinus, Q. Quinctius Cincinnatus, C. Julius Julus - for the second time - Aulus Manlius, L. Furius Medullinus - or the third time - and Manius Aemilius Mamercus. It was by them that Veii was first invested. Immediately after the siege had commenced, a largely-attended meeting of the national council of the Etruscans was held at the fane of Voltumna, but no decision was arrived at as to whether the Veientines should be defended by the armed strength of the whole nation. The following year the siege was prosecuted with less vigour owing to some of the tribunes and a portion of the army being called off to the Volscian war. The consular tribunes for the year were C. Valerius Potitus - for the third time - Manius Sergius Fidenas, P. Cornelius Maluginensis, Cnaeus Cornelius Cossus, Kaeso Fabius Ambustus, and Spurius Nautius Rutilus - for the second time. A pitched battle was fought with the Volscians between Ferentinum and Ecetrae, which resulted in favour of the Romans. Then the tribunes commenced the siege of Artena, a Volscian town. In attempting a sortie the enemy were driven back into the town, giving thereby an opportunity to the Romans of forcing an entrance, and with the exception of the citadel the whole place was captured. A body of the enemy retired into the citadel, which was protected by the nature of its position; below the citadel many were killed or taken prisoners. The citadel was then invested, but it could not be taken by assault as the defenders were quite sufficient for the extent of the fortifications, nor was there any hope of its surrendering, as all the corn from the public magazines had been conveyed there before the city was taken. The Romans would have retired in disgust had not a slave betrayed the place to them. The soldiers, guided by him up some steep ground, effected its capture, and after they had massacred those on guard, the rest, panic-struck, surrendered. After the town and citadel had been demolished, the legions were withdrawn from Volscian territory and the whole strength of Rome was directed against Veii. The traitor was rewarded not only with his freedom, but also with the property of two households, and was called Servius Romanus. Some suppose that Artena belonged to the Veientines, not the Volscians. The mistake arises from the fact that there was a city of the same name between Caere and Veii, but it was destroyed in the time of the kings of Rome, and it belonged to Caere, not Veii. The other town of the same name whose destruction I have mentioned was in the Volscian territory.
End of Book 4
Copyright (c) 1996 by Bruce J. Butterfield.
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