Book 7: Frontier Wars - (366 - 341 B.C.)
[7.1]This year will be noteworthy for the first consulship held by a plebeian, and also for two new magistracies, the praetorship and the curule aedileship. These offices the patricians created in their own interest as an equivalent for their concession of one consulship to the plebs, who bestowed it on L. Sextius, the man who had secured it for them. The patricians secured the praetorship for Sp. Furius, the son of old Camillus, and the two aedileships for Gnaeus Quinctius Capitolinus and P. Cornelius Scipio, members of their own order. L. Aemilius Mamercus was elected from the patricians as colleague to L. Sextius. The main themes of discussion at the beginning of the year were the Gauls, about whom it was rumoured that after wandering by various routes through Apulia they had reunited their forces and the Hernici, who were reported to have revolted. All preparations were deferred with the sole purpose of preventing any action from being taken by the plebeian consul; everything was quiet and silent in the City, as though a suspension of all business had been proclaimed, with the one exception of the tribunes of the plebs. They did not silently submit to the procedure of the nobility in appropriating to themselves three patrician magistrates, sitting in curule chairs and clothed in the praetexta like consuls, as a set-off against one plebeian consul - the praetor even administering justice, as though he were a colleague of the consuls and elected under the same auspices. The senate felt somewhat ashamed of their resolution by which they had limited the curule aediles to their own order; it had been agreed that they should be elected in alternate years from the plebs; afterwards it was left open.
The consuls for the following year were L. Genucius and Q. Servilius. Matters were quiet as regarded domestic troubles or foreign wars, but, lest there should be too great a feeling of security, a pestilence broke out. It is asserted that one of the censors, one of the curule aediles, and three tribunes of the plebs fell victims, and in the population generally there was a corresponding proportion of deaths. The most illustrious victim was M. F. Camillus, whose death, though occurring in ripe old age, was bitterly lamented. He was, it may be truly said, an exceptional man in every change of fortune; before he went into exile foremost in peace and war, rendered still more illustrious when actually in exile by the regret which the State felt for his loss, and the eagerness with which after its capture it implored his assistance, and quite as much so by the success with which, after being restored to his country, he restored his country's fortunes together with his own. For five-and-twenty years after this he lived fully up to his reputation, and was counted worthy to be named next to Romulus, as the second founder of the City.
[7.2]The pestilence lasted into the following year. The new consuls were C. Sulpicius Peticus and C. Licinius Stolo. Nothing worth mentioning took place, except that in order to secure the peace of the gods a lectisternium was instituted, the third since the foundation of the City. But the violence of the epidemic was not alleviated by any aid from either men or gods, and it is asserted that as men's minds were completely overcome by superstitious terrors they introduced, amongst other attempts to placate the wrath of heaven, scenic representations, a novelty to a nation of warriors who had hitherto only had the games of the Circus. They began, however, in a small way, as nearly everything does, and small as they were, they were borrowed from abroad. The players were sent for from Etruria; there were no words, no mimetic action; they danced to the measures of the flute and practiced graceful movements in Tuscan fashion. Afterwards the young men began to imitate them, exercising their wit on each other in burlesque verses, and suiting their action to their words. This became an established diversion, and was kept up by frequent practice. The Tuscan word for an actor is istrio, and so the native performers were called histriones. These did not, as in former times, throw out rough extempore effusions like the Fescennine verse, but they chanted satyrical verses quite metrically arranged and adapted to the notes of the flute, and these they accompanied with appropriate movements. Several years later Livius for the first time abandoned the loose satyrical verses and ventured to compose a play with a coherent plot. Like all his contemporaries, he acted in his own plays, and it is said that when he had worn out his voice by repeated recalls he begged leave to place a second player in front of the flutist to sing the monologue while he did the acting, with all the more energy because his voice no longer embarrassed him. Then the practice commenced of the chanter following the movements of the actors, the dialogue alone being left to their voices. When, by adopting this method in the presentation of pieces, the old farce and loose jesting was given up and the play became a work of art, the young people left the regular acting to the professional players and began to improvise comic verses. These were subsequently known as exodia (after-pieces), and were mostly worked up into the "Atellane Plays." These farces were of Oscan origin, and were kept by the young men in their own hands; they would not allow them to be polluted by the regular actors. Hence it is a standing rule that those who take part in the Atellanae are not deprived of their civic standing, and serve in the army as being in no way connected with the regular acting. Amongst the things which have arisen from small beginnings, the origin of the stage ought to be put foremost, seeing that what was at first healthy and innocent has grown into a mad extravagance that even wealthy kingdoms can hardly support.
[7.3]However, the first introduction of plays, though intended as a means of religious expiation, did not relieve the mind from religious terrors nor the body from the inroads of disease. Owing to an inundation of the Tiber, the Circus was flooded in the middle of the Games, and this produced an unspeakable dread; it seemed as though the gods had turned their faces from men and despised all that was done to propitiate their wrath. C. Genucius and L. Aemilius Mamercus were the new consuls, each for the second time. The fruitless search for effective means of propitiation was affecting the minds of the people more than disease was affecting their bodies. It is said to have been discovered that the older men remembered that a pestilence had once been assuaged by the Dictator driving in a nail. The senate believed this to be a religious obligation, and ordered a Dictator to be nominated for that purpose. L. Manlius Imperiosus was nominated, and he appointed L. Pinarius as his Master of the Horse. There is an ancient instruction written in archaic letters which runs: Let him who is the praetor maximus fasten a nail on the Ides of September. This notice was fastened up on the right side of the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, next to the chapel of Minerva. This nail is said to have marked the number of the year -written records being scarce in those days - and was for that reason placed under the protection of Minerva because she was the inventor of numbers. Cincius, a careful student of monuments of this kind, asserts that at Volsinii also nails were fastened in the temple of Nortia, an Etruscan goddess, to indicate the number of the year. It was in accordance with this direction that the consul Horatius dedicated the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus in the year following the expulsion of the kings; from the consuls the ceremony of fastening the nails passed to the Dictators, because they possessed greater authority. As the custom had been subsequently dropped, it was felt to be of sufficient importance to require the appointment of a Dictator. L. Manlius was accordingly nominated, but, regarding his appointment as due to political rather than to religious reasons and eager to command in the war with the Hernici, he caused a very angry feeling among the men liable to serve by the inconsiderate way in which he conducted the enrolment. At last, in consequence of the unanimous resistance offered by the tribunes of the plebs, he gave way, either voluntarily or through compulsion, and laid down his Dictatorship.
[7.4]This did not, however, prevent his impeachment the following year, when Q. Servilius Ahala and L. Genucius were consuls, the prosecutor being M. Pomponius, one of the tribunes of the plebs. He had incurred universal hatred through the unfeeling severity with which he had carried out the enlistment; the citizens had not only been fined, but subjected to personal ill-treatment, some scourged and others imprisoned because they had not answered to their names. But what men most loathed was his brutal temperament, and the epithet "Imperiosus " (masterful) which had been fastened on him from his unblushing cruelty, an epithet utterly repugnant to a free State. The effects of his cruelty were felt quite as much by his nearest kindred, by his own blood, as by strangers. Amongst other charges which the tribune brought against him was his treatment of his young son. It was alleged that although guilty of no offence he had banished him from the City, from his home and household gods, had forbidden him to appear in public in the Forum or to associate with those of his own age, and had consigned him to servile work, almost to the imprisonment of a workshop. Here the youth, of high birth, the son of a Dictator, was to learn by daily suffering how rightly his father was called "Imperiosus." And for what offence? Simply because he was lacking in eloquence, in readiness of speech! Ought not this natural defect to have been helped and remedied by the father, if there were a spark of humanity in him, instead of being punished and branded by persecution? Not even do brute beasts show less care and protection to their offspring if they happen to be sickly or deformed. But L. Manlius actually aggravated his son's misfortune by fresh misfortunes, and increased his natural dullness and quenched any faint glimmerings of ability which he might have shown by the clodhopper's life to which he was condemned and the boorish bringing up amongst cattle to which he had to submit.
The youth himself was the last to be exasperated by these accusations brought against his father. On the contrary, he was so indignant at finding himself made the ground of the charges against his father and the deep resentment they created that he was determined to let gods and men see that he preferred standing by his father to helping his enemies. He formed a project which, though natural to an ignorant rustic and no precedent for an ordinary citizen to follow, still afforded a laudable example of filial affection. Arming himself with a knife, he went off early in the morning, without any one's knowledge, to the City, and once inside the gates proceeded straight to the house of M. Pomponius. He informed the porter that it was necessary for him to see his master at once, and announced himself as T. Manlius, the son of Lucius. Pomponius imagined that he was either bringing some matter for a fresh charge, to revenge himself on his father, or was going to offer some advice as to the management of the prosecution. After mutual salutations, he informed Pomponius that he wished the business in hand to be transacted in the absence of witnesses. After all present had been ordered to withdraw, he grasped his knife and standing over the tribune's bed and pointing the weapon towards him, threatened to plunge it into him at once unless he took the oath which he was going to dictate to him, "That he would never hold an Assembly of the plebs for the prosecution of his father." The tribune was terrified, for he saw the steel glittering before his eyes, while he was alone and defenceless, in the presence of a youth of exceptional strength, and what was worse, prepared to use that strength with savage ferocity. He took the required oath and publicly announced that, yielding to violence, he had abandoned his original purpose. The plebs would certainly have been glad of the opportunity of passing sentence on such an insolent and cruel offender, but they were not displeased at the son's daring deed in defence of his parent, which was all the more meritorious because it showed that his father's brutality had not in any way weakened his natural affection and sense of duty. Not only was the prosecution of the father dropped, but the incident proved the means of distinction for the son. That year, for the first time, the military tribunes were elected by the popular vote; previously they had been nominated by the commander-in-chief, as is the case now with those who are called Rufuli. This youth obtained the second out of six places, though he had done nothing at home or in the field to make him popular, having passed his youth in the country far from city life.
[7.5]In this year, owing either to an earthquake or the action of some other force, the middle of the Forum fell in to an immense depth, presenting the appearance of an enormous cavern. Though all worked their hardest at throwing earth in, they were unable to fill up the gulf, until at the bidding of the gods inquiry was made as to what that was in which the strength of Rome lay. For this, the seers declared, must be sacrificed on that spot if men wished the Roman republic to be eternal. The story goes on that M. Curtius, a youth distinguished in war, indignantly asked those who were in doubt what answer to give, whether anything that Rome possessed was more precious than the arms and velour of her sons. As those around stood silent, he looked up to the Capitol and to the temples of the immortal gods which looked down on the Forum, and stretching out his hands first towards heaven and then to the yawning chasm beneath, devoted himself to the gods below. Then mounting his horse, which had been caparisoned as magnificently as possible, he leaped in full armour into the cavern. Gifts and offerings of fruits of the earth were flung in after him by crowds of men and women. It was from this incident that the designation "The Curtian Gulf" originated, and not from that old-world soldier of Titius Tatius, Curtius Mettius. If any path would lead an inquirer to the truth, we should not shrink from the labour of investigation; as it is, on a matter where antiquity makes certainty impossible we must adhere to the legend which supplies the more famous derivation of the name.
[7.6]After this appalling portent had been duly expiated, the deliberations of the senate were concerned with the Hernici. The mission of the Fetials who had been sent to demand satisfaction proved to be fruitless; the senate accordingly decided to submit to the people at the earliest possible day the question of declaring war against the Hernici. The people in a crowded Assembly voted for war. Its conduct fell by lot to L. Genucius. As he was the first plebeian consul to manage a war under his own auspices the State awaited the issue with keen interest, prepared to look upon the policy of admitting plebeians to the highest offices of state as wise or unwise according to the way matters turned out. As chance would have it, Genucius, whilst making a vigorous attack upon the enemy, fell into an ambush, the legions were taken by surprise and routed, and the consul was surrounded and killed without the enemy being aware who their victim was. When the report of the occurrence reached Rome, the patricians were not so much distressed at the disaster which had befallen the commonwealth as they were exultant over the unfortunate generalship of the consul. Everywhere they were taunting the plebeians: "Go on! Elect your consuls from the plebs, transfer the auspices to those for whom it is an impiety to possess them! The voice of the plebs may expel the patricians from their rightful honours, but has your law, which pollutes the auspices, any force against the immortal gods? They have themselves vindicated their will as expressed through the auspices, for no sooner have these been profaned by one who took them against all divine and human law than the army and its general have been wiped out as a lesson to you not to conduct the elections to the confusion of all the rights of the patrician houses." The Senate-house and the Forum alike were resounding with these protests. Appius Claudius, who had led the opposition to the law, spoke with more weight than ever while he denounced the result of a policy which he had severely censured, and the consul Servilius, with the unanimous approval of the patricians, nominated him Dictator. Orders were issued for an immediate enrolment and the suspension of all business.
[7.7]After Genucius had fallen, C. Sulpicius had assumed the command, and before the arrival of the Dictator and the newly-raised legions, he distinguished himself by a smart action. The death of the consul had led the Hernici to think very lightly of the Roman arms, and they surrounded the Roman camp fully expecting to carry it by assault. The defenders, encouraged by their general and burning with rage and indignation at their recent defeat, made a sortie, and not only destroyed any hopes the Hernici had of forcing the entrenchment but created such disorder amongst them that they precipitately retreated. By the arrival of the Dictator and the junction of the old and newly-raised legions, their strength was doubled. In the presence of the entire force, the Dictator commended Sulpicius and the men who had so gallantly defended the camp, and whilst he raised the courage of those who listened to the praise which they so well deserved, he at the same time made the rest all the keener to emulate them. The enemy showed no less energy in preparing for a renewal of the struggle. Aware of the increase in the strength of their enemy, and animated by the thought of their recent victory, they called every man in the Hernican nation who could bear arms. Eight cohorts were formed of four hundred men each, who had been carefully selected. These, the picked flower of their manhood, were full of hope and courage, and they were further encouraged by a decree which had been passed to allow them double pay. They were exempt from all fatigue duty, in order that they might devote themselves more than the rest of the troops to the one duty reserved for them - that of fighting. In order to make their courage more conspicuous they occupied a special position in the fighting line. The Roman camp was separated from the Hernican by a plain two miles broad. In the middle of this plain, almost equally distant from both camps, the battle took place. For some time neither side gained any advantage, though the Roman cavalry made frequent attempts to break the enemy's line. When they found that the effect produced was much feebler than the efforts they made, they obtained the Dictator's permission to abandon their horses and fight on foot. They raised a loud cheer and commenced a novel kind of fighting by charging as infantry. Their onset would have been irresistible had not the special cohorts of the enemy opposed them with a strength and courage equal to their own.
[7.8]Then the struggle was kept up by the foremost men of each nation. Whatever losses the common chances of battle inflicted on each side were many times greater than could have been expected from their numbers. The rest of the soldiers stood like a crowd of spectators, leaving the fighting to their chiefs as if it were their special privilege, and placing all their hopes of victory on the courage of others. Many fell on both sides, still more were wounded. At length the cavalry began to ask each other somewhat bitterly, "What was left for them to do if after failing to repulse the enemy when mounted they could make no impression on them whilst fighting on foot. What third mode of fighting were they looking for? Why had they dashed forward so eagerly in front of the standards to fight in a position which was not their proper one? "Urged on by these mutual reproaches, they raised their battle shout again and pressed forward. Slowly they compelled the enemy to give ground, then they drove them back more rapidly, and at last fairly routed them. It is not easy to say what gave the advantage where the two sides were so evenly matched, unless it be that the Fortune which ever watches over each nation had the power to raise and to depress their courage. The Romans followed up the fleeing Hernici as far as their camp; but they abstained from attacking it, as it was late in the day. They offered sacrifices the next morning for a long time without obtaining any favourable omen, and this prevented the Dictator from giving the signal for attack before noon; the fight consequently went on into the night. The next day they found the camp abandoned; the Hernici had fled and left some of their wounded behind. The people of Signium saw the main body of the fugitives streaming past their walls with their standards few and far between, and sallying out to attack them they scattered them in headlong flight over the fields. The victory was anything but a bloodless one for the Romans; they lost a quarter of their whole force, and by no means the smallest loss fell on the cavalry, a considerable number of whom perished.
[7.9]The consuls for the following year were C. Sulpicius and C. Licinius Calvus. They resumed operations against the Hernici and invaded their territory, but did not find the enemy in the open. They attacked and captured Ferentinum, a Hernican City; but as they were returning home the Tiburtines closed their gates against them. There had previously been numerous complaints made on both sides, but this last provocation finally decided the Romans, in case the Fetials failed to get redress, to declare war against the Tiburtines. It is generally understood that T. Quinctius Pennus was the Dictator and Ser. Cornelius Maluginensis the Master of the Horse. According to Licinius Macer, the Dictator was nominated by the consul Licinius. His colleague, Sulpicius, was anxious to get the elections over before he departed for the war, in the hope of being himself re-elected, if he were on the spot, and Licinius determined to thwart his colleague's self-seeking ambition. Licinius Macer's desire to appropriate the credit of this to his house (the Licinii) lessens the weight of his authority. As I find no mention of this in the older annalists, I am more inclined to believe that it was the prospect of a Gaulish war which was the immediate cause why a Dictator was nominated. At all events it was in this year that the Gauls formed their camp by the Salarian road, three miles from the City at the bridge across the Anio. In face of this sudden and alarming inroad the Dictator proclaimed a suspension of all business, and made every man who was liable to serve take the military oath. He marched out of the City with an immense army and fixed his camp on this side the Anio. Each side had left the bridge between them intact, as its destruction might have been thought due to fears of an attack. There were frequent skirmishes for the possession of the bridge; as these were indecisive, the question was left unsettled. A Gaul of extraordinary stature strode forward on to the unoccupied bridge, and shouting as loudly as he could, cried: "Let the bravest man that Rome possesses come out and fight me, that we two may decide which people is the superior in war."
[7.10]A long silence followed. The best and bravest of the Romans made no sign; they felt ashamed of appearing to decline the challenge, and yet they were reluctant to expose themselves to such terrible danger. Thereupon T. Manlius, the youth who had protected his father from the persecution of the tribune, left his post and went to the Dictator. "Without your orders, General," he said, "I will never leave my post to fight, no, not even if I saw that victory was certain; but if you give me permission I want to show that monster as he stalks so proudly in front of their lines that I am a scion of that family which hurled the troop of Gauls from the Tarpeian rock." Then the Dictator: "Success to your courage, T. Manlius, and to your affection for your father and your fatherland! Go, and with the help of the gods show that the name of Rome is invincible." Then his comrades fastened on his armour; he took an infantry shield and a Spanish sword as better adapted for close fighting; thus armed and equipped they led him forward against the Gaul, who was exulting in his brute strength, and even - the ancients thought this worth recording - putting his tongue out in derision. They retired to their posts and the two armed champions were left alone in the midst, more after the manner of a scene on the stage than under the conditions of serious war, and to those who judged by appearances, by no means equally matched. The one was a creature of enormous bulk, resplendent in a many-coloured coat and wearing painted and gilded armour; the other a man of average height, and his arms, useful rather than ornamental, gave him quite an ordinary appearance. There was no singing of war-songs, no prancing about, no silly brandishing of weapons. With a breast full of courage and silent wrath Manlius reserved all his ferocity for the actual moment of conflict. When they had taken their stand between the two armies, while so many hearts around them were in suspense between hope and fear, the Gaul, like a great overhanging mass, held out his shield on his left arm to meet his adversary's blows and aimed a tremendous cut downwards with his sword. The Roman evaded the blow, and pushing aside the bottom of the Gaul's shield with his own, he slipped under it close up to the Gaul, too near for him to get at him with his sword. Then turning the point of his blade upwards, he gave two rapid thrusts in succession and stabbed the Gaul in the belly and the groin, laying his enemy prostrate over a large extent of ground. He left the body of his fallen foe undespoiled with the exception of his chain, which though smeared with blood he placed round his own neck. Astonishment and fear kept the Gauls motionless; the Romans ran eagerly forward from their lines to meet their warrior, and amidst cheers and congratulations they conducted him to the Dictator. In the doggerel verses which they extemporised in his honour they called him Torquatus ("adorned with a chain"), and this soubriquet became for his posterity a proud family name. The Dictator gave him a golden crown, and before the whole army alluded to his victory in terms of the highest praise.
[7.11]Strange to relate, that single combat had such a far-reaching influence upon the whole war that the Gauls hastily abandoned their camp and moved off into the neighbourhood of Tibur. They formed an alliance offensive and defensive with that city, and the Tiburtines supplied them generously with provisions. After receiving this assistance they passed on into Campania. This was the reason why in the following year the consul, C. Poetilius Balbus, led an army, by order of the people, against the Tiburtines, though the conduct of the war against the Hernici had fallen by lot to his colleague, M. Fabius Ambustus. Though the Gauls had come back from Campania to their assistance, it was undoubtedly by the Tiburtine generals that the cruel depredations in the territories of Labici, Tusculum, and Alba were carried out. To act against the Tiburtines, the republic was content with a consul, but the sudden re-appearance of the Gauls required a Dictator. Q. Servilius Ahala was nominated, and he selected T. Quinctius as Master of the Horse. On the authority of the senate, he made a vow to celebrate the Great Games, should the issue of the war prove favourable. After giving orders for the consul's army to remain where it was, in order to confine the Tiburtines to their own war, the Dictator made all the "juniors" take the military oath, without a single refusal. The battle, in which the whole strength of the City was engaged, took place not far from the Colline Gate in the sight of the parents and wives and children of the Roman soldiers. Even when absent, the thought of those near and dear to one is a great incentive to courage, but now that they were within view they fired the men with a firm resolve to win their applause and secure their safety. There was great slaughter on both sides, but the Gauls were in the end repulsed, and fled in the direction of Tibur as though it were a Gaulish stronghold. The straggling fugitives were intercepted by the consul not far from Tibur; the townsmen sallied out to render them assistance, and they and the Gauls were driven within their gates. So the consul was equally successful with the Dictator. The other consul, Fabius, crushed the Hernici in successive defeats, at first in comparatively unimportant actions and then finally in one great battle when the enemy attacked him in full strength. The Dictator passed splendid encomiums on the consuls, both in the senate and before the people, and even transferred to them the credit for his own success. He then laid down his office. Poetilius celebrated a double triumph - over the Gauls and over the Tiburtines. It was considered a sufficient honour for Fabius to be allowed to enter the City in an ovation. The Tiburtines laughed at Poetilius' triumph. "When," they said, "had he ever met them in a pitched battle? A few of them had come outside their gates to watch the disordered flight of the Gauls, but when they found that they, too, were being attacked and cut down indiscriminately they retreated into their city. Did the Romans deem that sort of thing worthy of a triumph? They must not look upon it as too great and wonderful a thing to create disorder in an enemy's gates; they would themselves see greater confusion and panic before their own walls."
[7.12]Accordingly, the following year, when M. Popilius Laenas and Cnaeus Manlius were the consuls, an army from Tibur marched in the early hours of the night when all was still against the City of Rome. The citizens, suddenly aroused from sleep, were alarmed by the danger of a nocturnal attack and one quite unlooked for, and the alarm was heightened by their ignorance as to who the enemies were and whence they came. However, the word quickly passed "To arms"; the gates were protected by pickets and the walls manned. When the early dawn revealed a comparatively small force before the walls and the enemy turned out to be none other than the Tiburtines, the consuls decided upon an immediate attack. They issued from two separate gates and attacked the enemy, as they were advancing to the walls, on both flanks. It soon became obvious that they had been trusting more to the chances of a surprise than to their own courage, so little resistance did they offer to the very first onset of the Romans. Their expedition turned out to be an advantage to the Romans, for the apprehensions aroused by a war so close to their gates stifled a nascent conflict between the patricians and the plebs. In the war which followed there was another hostile incursion, but one more formidable to the country districts than to the City; the Tarquinians were carrying on their depredations within the Roman frontiers mainly on the side towards Etruria. As redress was refused, the new consuls, C. Fabius and C. Plautius, by order of the people, declared war against them. This campaign was allotted to Fabius, the one against the Hernici to Plautius. Rumours of hostilities on the part of the Gauls were becoming more frequent. Amidst these numerous alarms, however, there was one consolation - peace had been granted on their request to the Latins, and a strong contingent was sent by them in accordance with the old treaty which for many years they had not observed. Now that the cause of Rome was strengthened by this reinforcement, there was less excitement created by the news that the Gauls had recently reached Praeneste and from there had settled in the country round Pedum. It was decided that C. Sulpicius should be nominated Dictator; the consul, C. Plautius, was summoned home for the purpose. M. Valerius was appointed Master of the Horse. They selected the finest troops out of the two armies which the consuls had commanded and led them against the Gauls.
The war was somewhat more tedious than was agreeable to either side. At first it was only the Gauls who were anxious to fight, then the Romans showed even more alacrity than the Gauls in arming themselves for action. The Dictator by no means approved of this, since there was no necessity for him to run any risks. The enemy was daily becoming weaker by remaining inactive in a disadvantageous position, without any supplies previously collected, and with no proper entrenchments thrown up. Their whole strength both of mind and body depended upon rapid movements, and even a short delay told upon their vigour. For these reasons the Dictator prolonged the war and announced that he would inflict severe punishment on any one who fought against orders. The soldiers grew impatient at this state of things. When on picket or outpost duty at night, they talked in very disparaging terms about the Dictator, sometimes they abused the senators generally for not having given orders that the war should be conducted by consuls. "An extraordinary commander," they said, "had been selected, one man out of a thousand, who thought that if he sat still and did nothing himself, victory would fly down from heaven into his lap." Then they uttered these sentiments and still more angry ones openly in the daytime; they declared that they would either fight without waiting for orders or they would march back in a body to Rome. The centurions made common cause with the soldiers; the murmurs were not confined to scattered groups, a general discussion went on in the main thoroughfares of the camp and in the open space before the headquarters' tent. The crowd grew to the dimensions of an Assembly, and shouts were raised from all sides to go at once to the Dictator. Sextius Tullius was to be spokesman for the army, a position he was well worthy to fill.
[7.13]Tullius was now first centurion for the seventh time and there was not in the whole army amongst the infantry officers a more distinguished soldier. He led the procession to the tribunal, and Sulpicius was not more surprised at seeing the gathering than at seeing Tullius at the head of it. He began: "Do not be surprised, Dictator, at my being here. The whole army is under the impression that it has been condemned by you for cowardice and to mark its disgrace has been deprived of its arms. It has asked me to plead its cause before you. Even if we could be charged with deserting our ranks and turning our backs to the enemy, or with the disgraceful loss of our standards, even then I should think it only fair for you to allow us to amend our fault by courage and to wipe out the memory of our disgraceful conduct by winning fresh glory. Even the legions which were routed at the Alia marched out afterwards from Veii and recovered the City which they had lost through panic. For us, thanks to the goodness of the gods and the happy fortune which attends on you and on Rome, our fortunes and our honour remain unimpaired. And yet I hardly dare mention the word 'honour' whilst the enemy ventures to mock us with every kind of insult, as if we were hiding ourselves like women behind our rampart, and - what grieves us much more - even you our commander have made up your mind that your army is without courage, without weapons, without hands to use them, and before you have put us to the proof have so despaired of us that you look upon yourself as the commander of cripples and weaklings. What other reason can we believe there to be, why you, a veteran commander, a most gallant soldier, should be as they say sitting with your arms folded? However the case may be, it is more true to say that you appear to doubt our courage than that we doubt yours. But if this is not your doing, but a piece of State policy, if it is some concerted scheme of the patricians and not war with the Gauls that is keeping us in banishment from the City and from our household gods, then I ask you to regard what I am now going to say as addressed not by soldiers to their commander but to the patricians by the plebs, who say that as you have your projects so they will have theirs. Who could possibly be angry with us for regarding ourselves as your soldiers, not your slaves, sent to war not into banishment, ready, if any one gives the signal and leads us into battle, to fight as becomes men and Romans, equally ready, if there is no need for arms, to live a life of peace and quietness in Rome rather than in camp? This is what we would say to the patricians. But you are our commander, and we your soldiers implore you to give us a chance of fighting. We are eager to win a victory, but to win it under your leadership; it is on you that we want to bestow the laurels of glory, it is with you that we desire to enter the City in triumphal procession, it is behind your chariot that we would go with joyous thanksgivings up to the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus." This speech of Tullius' was followed by earnest requests from the whole army that he would give the signal and order them to arm.
[7.14]Although the Dictator recognised that, however satisfactory the soldiers' action might be, a most undesirable precedent had been set, he nevertheless undertook to carry out their wishes. He interrogated Tullius privately as to what the whole thing meant and what warrant he had for his procedure. Tullius earnestly entreated the Dictator not to think that he had forgotten military discipline or the respect due to his commanding officer. "But an excited multitude is generally swayed by their advisers, and he had consented to act as their leader to prevent any one else from coming forward whom they might have chosen because he shared their excitement. He himself would do nothing against the wish of the commander-in-chief, but the commander also must be most careful to keep his men in hand. They were too excited now to be put off; they would themselves choose the place and time for fighting if the Dictator did not do so." During this conversation some cattle which happened to be grazing outside the rampart were being driven off by a Gaul, when two Roman soldiers took them from him. The Gauls pelted them with stones, a shout was raised by the Roman outpost and men ran together from both sides. Affairs were rapidly approaching a pitched battle had not the centurions promptly stopped the fighting. This incident confirmed the Dictator's belief in what Tullius had told him, and as matters no longer admitted of delay he issued orders to prepare for battle on the following day.
The Dictator was going into action feeling more assured as to the courage than as to the strength of his troops. He began to turn over in his mind every possible device by which he could inspire fear into the enemy. At last he thought out an ingenious and original plan, one, too, which has since been adopted by many of our own generals as well as those of other countries and which is even practiced to-day. He ordered the packsaddles to be taken off the mules and two pieces of coloured cloth placed on their backs. The muleteers were then furnished with arms, some taken from the prisoners and others belonging to the invalided soldiers, and after thus equipping about a thousand of them and distributing a hundred of the cavalry amongst them he ordered them to ascend the mountains which overlooked the camp and conceal themselves in the woods, and remain there motionless till they received the signal from him As soon as it grew light the Dictator extended his lines along the lower slopes of the mountain in order that the enemy might have to form their front facing the mountain. The arrangements for creating a groundless alarm were now completed, and that groundless alarm proved almost more serviceable than an actual increase of strength would have been. At first the leaders of the Gauls did not believe that the Romans would come down on to the plain, but when they saw them suddenly descending, they rushed on to meet them, eager for the encounter, and the battle commenced before the signal had been given by the commanders.
[7.15]The Gauls directed their fiercest attack upon the Roman right, and the Dictator's presence with that division alone prevented the attack from succeeding. When he saw the men wavering he called out sharply to Sextius and asked him if this was the way in which he had pledged his soldiers to fight. "Where," he cried, "are the shouts of the men who clamoured for arms? Where are their threats of going into battle without their commander's orders? Here is the commander, calling loudly to them to fight, and himself fighting in the forefront of the battle; who out of all those who were just now going to lead the way was following him? Braggarts in camp, cowards in battle!" They felt the truth of what they heard, and they were so stung by a sense of shame that they rushed on the enemy's weapons without any thought of danger. They charged like madmen and threw the enemy's lines into confusion, and a cavalry attack which followed turned the confusion into rout. As soon as the Dictator saw their line broken in this part of the field he turned the attack on to their left, where he saw them closing up into a crowded mass, and at the same time gave the agreed signal to those on the mountain. When a fresh battle shout arose and these were seen crossing the mountain slope in the direction of the Gauls' camp, the enemy, afraid of being cut off, gave up the fight and ran in wild disorder to their camp. They were met by Marcus Valerius, the Master of the Horse, who after putting their right wing to flight was riding up to their lines, and he turned their flight towards the mountain and woods. A great many were intercepted by the muleteers whom they took for cavalry, and a terrible slaughter took place amongst those whom panic had driven into the woods after the main battle was over. No one since Camillus celebrated a more justly deserved triumph over the Gauls than C. Sulpicius. A large quantity of gold taken out of the spoil was dedicated by him and stored away in a vault beneath the Capitol. The campaigns in which the consuls for the year were engaged ended in a very different way. Whilst the Hernici were defeated and reduced to submission by his colleague, Fabius showed a sad want of caution and skill in his operations against the Tarquinians. The humiliation which Rome incurred through his defeat was embittered by the barbarity of the enemy, who sacrificed 307 prisoners of war. That defeat was followed by a sudden predatory incursion of the Privernates and afterwards by one in which the Veliternians took part. In this year two additional tribes were formed - the Pomptine and the Publilian. The Games which Camillus had vowed when Dictator were celebrated. A measure dealing with improper canvassing was for the first time submitted to the people, after passing the senate, by C. Poetilius, tribune of the plebs. It was intended to check the canvassing, mainly by rich plebeians, in the markets and promiscuous gatherings.
[7.16]Another measure, by no means so welcome to the patricians, was brought forward the following year, the consuls being C. Marcius and Cnaeus Manlius. M. Duilius and L. Menenius, tribunes of the plebs, were the proposers of this measure, which fixed the rate of interest at 8 1/3 per cent.; the plebs adopted it with much more eagerness than the Poetilian Law against canvassing. In addition to the fresh wars decided upon the previous year, the Faliscans had been guilty of two acts of hostility; their men had fought in the ranks of the Tarquinians, and they had refused to give up those who had fled after their defeat to Tarquinii, when the Fetials demanded their surrender. That campaign fell to Cn. Manlius; Marcius conducted the operations against Privernum. This district had remained uninjured during the long years of peace, and when Marcius led his army thither, they loaded themselves with plunder. Its value was enhanced by the munificence of the consul, for he appropriated none of it for the State, and so encouraged the efforts of the private soldier to increase his private means. The Privernates had formed a strongly entrenched camp in front of their walls, and before attacking it Marcius summoned his troops to assembly, and said: "If you promise me that you will do your duty bravely in battle and are quite as ready for fighting as for plunder, I give you now the camp and city of the enemy." With a mighty shout they demanded the signal for battle, and with heads erect and full of confidence they marched proudly into line. Sex. Tullius, who has been already mentioned, was in the front, and he called out, "See, General, how your army is fulfilling its promise to you," and with the word he dropped his javelin and drawing his sword charged the enemy. The whole of the front line followed him and at the very first onset defeated the Privernates and pursued them as far as the town, which they prepared to storm. When the scaling ladders were actually placed against the walls the place surrendered. A triumph was celebrated over the Privernates. Nothing worth recording was done by the other consul, except his unprecedented action in getting a law passed in camp by the tribes levying 5 per cent. on the value of every slave who was manumitted. As the money raised under this law would be a handsome addition to the exhausted treasury, the senate confirmed it. The tribunes of the plebs, however, looking not so much to the law as to the precedent set, made it a capital offence for any one to convene the Assembly outside their usual place of meeting. If it were once legalised, there was nothing, however injurious to the people, which could not be carried through men who were bound by the oath of military obedience. In this year C. Licinius Stolo was impeached by M. Popilius Laenas for having violated his own law; he and his son together occupied a thousand jugera of land, and he had emancipated his son in order to evade the law. He was condemned to pay a fine of 10,000 ases.
[7.17]The new consuls were M. Fabius Ambustus and M. Popilius Laenas, each for the second time. They had two wars on hand. The one which Laenas waged against the Tiburtines presented little difficulty; after driving them into their city he ravaged their fields. The other consul, who was operating against the Faliscans and Tarquinians, met with a defeat in the first battle. What mainly contributed to it and produced a real terror amongst the Romans was the extraordinary spectacle presented by their priests who, brandishing lighted torches and with what looked like snakes entwined in their hair, came on like so many Furies. At this sight the Romans were like men distraught or thunderstruck and rushed in a panic-stricken mass into their entrenchments. The consul and his staff officers and the military tribunes laughed at them and scolded them for being terrified by conjuring tricks like a lot of boys. Stung by a feeling of shame, they suddenly passed from a state of terror to one of reckless daring, and they rushed like blind men against what they had just fled from. When, after scattering the idle pageantry of the enemy, they got at the armed men behind, they routed the entire army. The same day they gained possession of the camp, and after securing an immense amount of booty returned home flushed with victory, jesting as soldiers do, and deriding the enemy's contrivance and their own panic. This led to a rising of the whole of Etruria, and under the leadership of the Tarquinians and Faliscans they marched to the salt-works. In this emergency C. Marcius Rutilus was nominated Dictator - the first Dictator nominated from the plebs - and he appointed as Master of the Horse C. Plautius, also a plebeian. The patricians were indignant at even the dictatorship becoming common property, and they offered all the resistance in their power to any decree being passed or any preparations made to help the Dictator in prosecuting that war. This only made the people more ready to adopt every proposal which the Dictator made. On leaving the City he marched along both banks of the Tiber, ferrying the troops across in whichever direction the enemy were reported to be; in this way he surprised many of the raiders scattered about the fields. Finally he surprised and captured their camp; 8000 prisoners were taken, the rest were either killed or hunted out of the Roman territory. By an order of the people which was not confirmed by the senate a triumph was awarded him. As the senate would not have the elections conducted by a plebeian Dictator or a plebeian consul, they fell back on an interregnum. There was a succession of interreges - Q. Servilius Ahala, M. Fabius, Cn. Manlius, C. Fabius, C. Sulpicius, L. Aemilius, Q. Servilius, and M. Fabius Ambustus. In the second of these interregna a contest arose because two patrician consuls were elected. When the tribunes interposed their veto and appealed to the Licinian Law, Fabius, the interrex, said that it was laid down in the Twelve Tables that whatever was the last order that the people made that should have the force of law, and the people had made an order by electing the two consuls. The tribunes' veto only availed to postpone the elections, and ultimately two patrician consuls were elected, namely C. Sulpicius Peticus (for the third time) and M. Valerius Publicola. They entered upon their office the day they were elected.
[7.18]So in the 400th year from the foundation of the City and the 35th after its capture by the Gauls, the second consulship was wrested from the plebs, for the first time since the passing of the Licinian Law seven years previously. Empulum was taken this year from the Tiburtines without any serious fighting. It seems uncertain whether both consuls held joint command in this campaign, as some writers assert, or whether the fields of the Tarquinians were ravaged by Sulpicius at the same time that Valerius was leading his legions against the Tiburtines. The consuls had a more serious conflict at home with the plebs and their tribunes. They considered it as a question not only of courage but of honour and loyalty to their order that as two patricians had received the consulship so they should hand it on to two patricians. They felt that they must either renounce all claims to it, if it became a plebeian magistracy, or they must keep it in its entirety as a possession which they had received in its entirety from their fathers. The plebs protested: "What were they living for? Why were they enrolled as citizens if they could not with their united strength maintain the right to what had been won for them by the courage of those two men, L. Sextius and C. Licinius? It were better to put up with kings or decemvirs or any other form of absolutism, even though with a worse name, than to see both consuls patricians, the other side not alternately governing and being governed but regarding itself as placed in perpetual authority, and looking upon the plebs as simply born to be their slaves." There was no lack of tribunes to lead the agitation, but in such a state of universal excitement everybody was his own leader. After many fruitless journeys to the Campus Martius, where numerous election days had been wasted in disturbances, the plebs was at last worsted by the steady persistence of the consuls. There was such a feeling of despair that the tribunes, followed by a gloomy and sullen plebs, exclaimed as they left the Campus that there was an end to all liberty, and that they must not only quit the Campus but must even abandon the City now that it was crushed and enslaved by the tyranny of the patricians. The consuls, though deserted by the majority of the people, only a few voters remaining behind, proceeded none the less determinedly with the election. Both the consuls elected were patricians, M. Fabius Ambustus (for the third time) and T. Quinctius. In some of the annalists I find M. Popilius given as consul instead of T. Quinctius.
[7.19]Two wars were brought to a successful close this year. The Tiburtines were reduced to submission; the city of Sassula was taken from them and all their other towns would have shared the same fate had not the nation as a whole laid down their arms and made peace with the consul. A triumph was celebrated over them, otherwise the victory was followed by mild treatment of the vanquished. The Tarquinians were visited with the utmost severity. A large number were killed in battle; of the prisoners, all those of noble birth to the number of 358 were sent to Rome, the rest were put to the sword. Those who had been sent to Rome met with no gentler treatment from the people, they were all scourged and beheaded in the middle of the Forum. This punishment was an act of retribution for the Romans who had been immolated in the forum of Tarquinii. These successes in war induced the Samnites to ask for a league of friendship. Their envoys received a favourable reply from the senate and a treaty of alliance was concluded with them. The plebs did not enjoy the same good fortune at home which they had met with in the field. In spite of the reduction in the rate of interest, which was now fixed at 8 1/3 per cent., the poor were unable to repay the capital, and were being made over to their creditors. Their personal distress left them little thought for public affairs and political struggles, elections, and patrician consuls; both consulships accordingly remained with the patricians. The consuls elected were C. Sulpicius Peticus (for the fourth time) and M. Valerius Publicola (for the second).
Rumours were brought that the people of Caere, out of sympathy with their co-nationalists, had sided with the Tarquinians. Whilst the minds of the citizens were in consequence filled with apprehensions of a war with Etruria, the arrival of envoys from Latium diverted their thoughts to the Volscians. They reported that an army had been raised and equipped and was now threatening their frontiers and intended to enter and ravage the Roman territory. The senate thought that neither of these movements ought to be ignored; orders were issued for troops to be enrolled for both wars; the consuls were to draw lots for their respective commands. The arrival of despatches from the consul Sulpicius made the Etruscan war appear the more serious of the two. He was directing the operations against Tarquinii, and reported that the country round the Roman salt-works had been raided and a portion of the plunder sent to Caere, some of whose men had undoubtedly been amongst the depredators. The consul Valerius, who was acting against the Volscians and had his camp on the frontiers of Tusculum, was recalled and received orders from the senate to nominate a Dictator. Titus, the son of Lucius Manlius, was nominated, and he named A. Cornelius Cossus as Master of the Horse. Finding the army which the consul had commanded sufficient for his purpose, he was authorised by the senate and the people to formally declare war upon the Caerites.
[7.20]It would seem as though this formal declaration of war brought home to the Caerites the horrors of a war with Rome more clearly than the action of those who had provoked the Romans by their depredations. They realised how unequal their strength was to such a conflict; they bitterly regretted the raid, and cursed the Tarquinians who had instigated them to revolt. No one made any preparation for war, but each did his utmost to urge the despatch of an embassy to Rome to beg pardon for their offence. When the deputation came before the senate they were referred by the senate to the people. They besought the gods whose sacred things they had taken charge of and made due provision for in the Gaulish war that the Romans in their day of prosperity might feel the same pity for them that they had shown for Rome in her hour of distress. Then turning to the temple of Vesta they invoked the bond of hospitality which they formed in all purity and reverence with the Flamens and the Vestals. "Could any one believe," they asked, "that men who had rendered such services would all of a sudden, without any reason, have become enemies, or if they had been guilty of any hostile act that they had committed it deliberately rather than in a fit of madness? Was it possible that they could, by inflicting fresh injuries, obliterate their old acts of kindness, especially when they had been conferred on those who were so grateful for them; or that they would make an enemy of the Roman people now that it was prosperous and successful in all its wars after having sought its friendship at a time when it was in trouble and adversity? That should not be described as deliberate purpose which ought to be called violence and constraint. After simply asking for a free passage, the Tarquinians traversed their territory in hostile array and compelled some of their country-folk to accompany them in that predatory expedition for which the city of Caere was now held responsible. If it was decided that these men must be surrendered, they would surrender them, if they must be punished, punished they should be. Caere, once the sanctuary of Rome, the shelter of her sacred things, ought to be declared innocent of any thought of war, and acquitted of any charge of hostile intentions in return for her hospitality to the Vestals and her devotion to the gods." Old memories rather than the actual circumstances of the case so wrought upon the people that they thought less of the present grievance than of the former kindness. Peace was accordingly granted to the people of Caere, and it was agreed to leave to the senate the question of a truce for 100 years. The Faliscans were implicated in the same charge and the war was diverted to them, but the enemy was nowhere to be found in the open. Their territory was ravaged from end to end, but no attempt was made against their cities. After the return of the legions, the rest of the year was spent in repairing the walls and towers. The temple of Apollo was also dedicated.
[7.21]At the close of the year the consular elections were put off owing to the quarrel between the two orders - the tribunes declared that they would not permit the elections to be held unless they were conducted in accordance with the Licinian Law, whilst the Dictator was determined to abolish the consulship altogether rather than make it the common property of plebeians and patricians. The elections were still postponed when the Dictator resigned office; so matters reverted to an interregnum. The interreges declined to hold the elections in consequence of the hostile attitude of the plebs, and the contest went on till the eleventh interregnum. Whilst the tribunes were sheltering themselves behind the Licinian Law and fighting the political battle, the plebs felt their most pressing grievance to be the steadily growing burden of debt; the personal question quite overshadowed the political controversy. Wearied out with the prolonged agitation the senate ordered L. Cornelius Scipio, the interrex, to restore harmony to the State by conducting the consular elections in accordance with the Licinian Law. P. Valerius Publicola was elected and C. Marcius Rutilus was his plebeian colleague.
Now that there was a general desire for concord, the new consuls took up the financial question which was the one hindrance to union. The State assumed the responsibility for the liquidation of the debts, and five commissioners were appointed, who were charged with the management of the money and were hence called mensarii (="bankers"). The impartiality and diligence with which these commissioners discharged their functions make them worthy of an honourable place in every historical record. Their names were: C. Duilius, Publius Decius Mus, M. Papirius, Q. Publilius, and T. Aemilius. The task they undertook was a difficult one, and involved hardship generally to both sides; on one side, at any rate, it always pressed heavily; but they carried it out with great consideration for all parties, and whilst incurring a large outlay on the part of the State they did not involve it in loss. Seated at tables in the Forum, they dealt with long-standing debts due to the slackness of the debtor more than to his want of means, either by advancing public money on proper security, or by making a fair valuation of his property. In this way an immense amount of debt was cleared off without any injustice or even complaints on either side. Owing to a report that the twelve cities of Etruria had formed a hostile league, a good deal of alarm was felt, which subsequently proved to be groundless, and it was thought necessary that a Dictator should be nominated. This took place in camp, for it was there that the consuls received the senatorial decree. C. Julius was nominated and L. Aemilius was assigned to him as Master of the Horse.
[7.22]Abroad, however, everything was tranquil. At home, owing to the Dictator's attempt to secure the election of patricians to both consulships, matters were brought to an interregnum. There were two interreges, C. Sulpicius and M. Fabius, and they succeeded where the Dictator had failed, as the plebs, owing to the pecuniary relief recently granted them, were in a less aggressive mood. Both consuls elected were patricians - C. Sulpicius Peticus, who had been the first of the two interreges, and T. Quinctius Pennus, some give as his third name Caeso, others Gaius. They both proceeded to war; Quinctius against Falerii, Sulpicius against Tarquinii. The enemy nowhere faced them in open battle; the war was carried on against fields rather than against men; burning and destroying went on everywhere. This waste and decay, like that of a slow decline, wore down the resolution of the two peoples, and they asked for a truce first from the consuls then by their permission from the senate. They obtained one for forty years. After the anxiety created by these two threatening wars was in this way allayed, there was a respite for a time from arms. The liquidation of the debts had in the case of many properties led to a change of ownership, and it was decided that a fresh assessment should be made. When, however, notice was given of the election of censors, C. Marcius Rutilus, who had been the first Dictator nominated from the plebs, announced that he was a candidate for the censorship. This upset the good feeling between the two orders. He took this step at what looked like an unfavourable moment because both consuls happened to be patricians, and they declared that they would allow no votes for him. But he resolutely held to his purpose, and the tribunes, anxious to recover the rights of the plebs which were lost in the consular elections, assisted him to the utmost of their power. There was no dignity which the greatness of his character was unequal to supporting, and the plebs were desirous of being called to share the censorship by the same man who had opened up the path to the dictatorship. There was no division of opinion shown in the elections, Marcius was unanimously elected censor, together with Manlius Gnaeus. This year also saw M. Fabius as Dictator, not from any apprehension of war but to prevent the Licinian Law from being observed in the consular elections. The Dictatorship, however, did not make the combined efforts of the senate more influential in the election of consuls than it had been in the election of censors.
[7.23]M. Popilius Laenas was the consul elected from the plebs, L. Cornelius Scipio the one from the patricians. Fortune conferred the greater distinction upon the plebeian consul, for upon the receipt of information that an immense army of Gauls had encamped in the territory of Latium, the conduct of that war, owing to Scipio's serious illness at the time, was entrusted by special arrangement to Popilius. He promptly raised an army, and ordered all who were liable for active service to meet under arms outside the Capene Gate at the temple of Mars; the quaestors were ordered to carry the standards from the treasury to the same place. After bringing up four legions to full strength, he handed over the rest of the troops to P. Valerius Publicola, the praetor, and advised the senate to raise a second army to protect the republic against any emergency. When all preparations were completed and everything in readiness, he advanced towards the enemy. With the view of ascertaining their strength before testing it in a decisive action, he seized some rising ground as near to the camp of the Gauls as possible and began to construct the rampart. When the Gauls saw the Roman standards in the distance they formed their line, prepared, with their usual impulsiveness and instinctive love of fighting, to engage at once. Observing, however, that the Romans did not come down into the plain and were trusting to the protection of their position and their rampart, they imagined that they were smitten with fear, and at the same time would be more open to attack whilst they were occupied in the work of entrenchment. So raising a wild shout they advanced to the attack. The triarii, who formed the working party, were not interrupted, for they were screened by the hastati and principes who were posted in front and who began the fighting. Their steady courage was aided by the fact that they were on higher ground, for the pila and hastae were not thrown ineffectively as often happens on level ground, but being carried forward by their weight they reached their mark. The Gauls were borne down by the weight of the missiles which either pierced their bodies or stuck in their shields, making them extremely heavy to carry. They had almost reached the top of the hill in their charge when they halted, uncertain what to do. The mere delay raised the courage of the Romans and depressed that of the enemy. Then the Roman line swept down upon them and forced them back; they fell over each other and caused a greater loss in this way than that inflicted by the enemy; so headlong was their flight that more were crushed to death than were slain by the sword.
[7.24]But the victory was not yet decided. When the Romans reached the level ground another mass remained to be dealt with. The number of the Gauls was great enough to prevent them from feeling the loss already sustained, and as though a new army had risen from the earth, fresh troops were brought up against their victorious enemy. The Romans checked their onset and stood still, for not only had they, wearied as they were, to sustain a second fight, but the consul, while riding incautiously in the front, had his left shoulder almost run through by a heavy javelin and had retired. The victory was all but forfeited by this delay, when the consul, after his wound was bound up, rode back to the front. "Why are you standing still, soldiers?" he exclaimed. "You have not to do with Latins or Sabines whom, after you have defeated, you can make into allies, it is against wild beasts that we have drawn the sword; we must either drain their blood or give them ours. You have repulsed them from your camp, you have driven them headlong down into the valley, you are standing over the prostrate bodies of your foes. Fill the valley with the same carnage with which you filled the mountain side. Do not look for them to flee while you are standing here; the standards must go forward, you must advance against the enemy." Thus encouraged they made a fresh charge, dislodged the front companies of the Gauls, and closing up their maniples into a wedge penetrated the enemy's center. Then the barbarians were broken up, and having no leadership or definite orders they turned the attack on to their own reserves. They were scattered over the plain, and their headlong flight carried them past their camp in the direction of the Alba hills. As the hill on which the old Alban stronghold stood appeared to be the highest in the range, they made for it. The consul did not continue the pursuit beyond the camp as his wound was troublesome and he did not wish to risk an attack upon hills held by the enemy. All the spoil of the camp was given up to the soldiers, and he led back to Rome an army flushed with victory and enriched by the plunder of the Gauls, but owing to his wound his triumph was delayed. As both consuls were on the sick list, the senate found it necessary to appoint a Dictator to conduct the elections. L. Furius Camillus was nominated, and P. Cornelius Scipio was associated with him as Master of the Horse. He restored to the patricians their old monopoly of the consulship, and for this service he was through their enthusiastic support elected consul, and he procured the election of Appius Claudius Crassus as his colleague.
[7.25]Before the new consuls entered upon their office Popilius celebrated his triumph over the Gauls amidst the delighted applause of the plebs, and people asked each other with bated breath whether there was any one who regretted the election of a plebeian consul. At the same time they were very bitter against the Dictator for having seized the consulship as a bribe for his treating the Licinian Law with contempt. They considered that he had degraded the consulship more by his greedy ambition than by his acting against the public interest, since he had actually procured his own election as consul whilst he was Dictator. The year was marked by numerous disturbances. The Gauls came down from the hills of Alba because they could not stand the severity of the winter, and they spread themselves in plundering hordes over the plains and the maritime districts. The sea was infested by fleets of Greek pirates who made descents on the coast round Antium and Laurentum and entered the mouth of the Tiber. On one occasion the sea-robbers and the land-robbers encountered one another in a hard-fought battle, and drew off, the Gauls to their camp, the Greeks to their ships, neither side knowing whether they were to consider themselves victors or vanquished.
These various alarms were followed by a much more serious one. The Latins had received a demand from the Roman government to furnish troops, and after discussing the matter in their national council replied in these uncompromising terms: "Desist from making demands on those whose help you need; we Latins prefer to bear arms in defence of our own liberty rather than in support of an alien dominion." With two foreign wars on their hands and this revolt of their allies, the anxious senate saw that they would have to restrain by fear those who were not restrained by any considerations of honour. They ordered the consuls to exert their authority to the utmost in levying troops, since, as the body of their allies were deserting them, they would have to depend upon their fellow-citizens entirely. Men were enlisted everywhere, not only from the City but also from the country districts. It is stated that ten legions were enrolled, each containing 4200 foot and 300 horse. In these days the strength of Rome, for which the world hardly finds room, would even, if concentrated, find it difficult on any sudden alarm to raise a fresh army of that size; to such an extent have we progressed in those things to which alone we devote our efforts - wealth and luxury. Amongst the other mournful events of this year was the death of the second consul, Ap. Claudius, which occurred while the preparations for war were going on. The government passed into the hands of Camillus, as sole consul, and the senate did not think it well for a Dictator to be appointed, either because of the auspicious omen of his name in view of trouble with the Gauls, or because they would not place a man of his distinction under a Dictator. Leaving two legions to protect the City, the consul divided the remaining eight between himself and L. Pinarius, the praetor. He kept the conduct of the war against the Gauls in his own hands instead of deciding upon the field of operations by the usual drawing of lots, inspired as he was by the memory of his father's brilliant successes. The praetor was to protect the coast-line and prevent the Greeks from effecting a landing, whilst he himself marched down into the Pomptine territory. His intention was to avoid any engagement in the flat country unless he was forced to fight, and to confine himself to checking their depredations; for as it was only by pillaging that they were able to maintain themselves, he thought that he could best crush them in this way. Accordingly he selected suitable ground for a stationary camp.
[7.26]Whilst the Romans were passing their time quietly at the outposts, a gigantic Gaul in splendid armour advanced towards them, and delivered a challenge through an interpreter to meet any Roman in single combat. There was a young military tribune, named Marcus Valerius, who considered himself no less worthy of that honour than T. Manlius had been. After obtaining the consul's permission, he marched, completely armed, into the open ground between the two armies. The human element in the fight was thrown into the shade by the direct interposition of the gods, for just as they were engaging a crow settled all of a sudden on the Roman's helmet with its head towards his antagonist. The tribune gladly accepted this as a divinely-sent augury, and prayed that whether it were god or goddess who had sent the auspicious bird that deity would be gracious to him and help him. Wonderful to relate, not only did the bird keep its place on the helmet, but every time they encountered it rose on its wings and attacked the Gaul's face and eyes with beak and talon, until, terrified at the sight of so dire a portent and bewildered in eyes and mind alike, he was slain by Valerius. Then, soaring away eastwards, the crow passed out of sight. Hitherto the outposts on both sides had remained quiet, but when the tribune began to despoil his foeman's corpse, the Gauls no longer kept their posts, whilst the Romans ran still more swiftly to help the victor. A furious fight took place round the body as it lay, and not only the maniples at the nearest outposts but the legions pouring out from the camp joined in the fray. The soldiers were exultant at their tribune's victory and at the manifest presence and help of the gods, and as Camillus ordered them into action he pointed to the tribune, conspicuous with his spoils, and said: "Follow his example, soldiers, and lay the Gauls in heaps round their fallen champion!" Gods and man alike took part in the battle, and it was fought out to a finish, unmistakably disastrous to the Gauls, so completely had each army anticipated a result corresponding to that of the single combat. Those Gauls who began the fight fought desperately, but the rest of the host who came to help them turned back before they came within range of the missiles. They dispersed amongst the Volscians and over the Falernian district; from thence they made their way to Apulia and the western sea.
The consul mustered his troops on parade, and after praising the conduct of the tribune presented him with ten oxen and a golden chaplet. In consequence of instructions received from the senate he took over the maritime war and joined his forces with those of the praetor. The Greeks were too lacking in courage to run the risk of a general engagement, and there was every prospect of the war proving a long one. Camillus was in consequence authorised by the senate to nominate T. Manlius Torquatus as Dictator for the purpose of conducting the elections. After appointing A. Cornelius Cossus as Master of the Horse, the Dictator proceeded to hold the consular elections. Marcus Valerius Corvus (for that was henceforth his cognomen), a young man of twenty-three, was declared to be duly elected amidst the enthusiastic cheers of the people. His colleague was the plebeian, M. Popilius Laenas, now elected for the fourth time. Nothing worth recording took place between Camillus and the Greeks; they were no fighters on land and the Romans could not fight on the sea. Ultimately, as they were prevented from landing anywhere and water and the other necessaries of life failed them, they abandoned Italy. To what Greek state or nationality that fleet belonged is a matter of uncertainty; I think it most likely that it belonged to the Tyrant of Sicily, for Greece itself was at that time exhausted by intestine wars and was watching with dread the growing power of Macedonia.
[7.27]After the armies were disbanded there was an interval of peace abroad and harmony between the two orders at home. To prevent things, however, from becoming too pleasant, a pestilence attacked the citizens, and the senate found themselves under the necessity of issuing an order to the decemvirs requiring them to consult the Sibylline Books. On their advice a lectisternium was held. In this year colonists from Antium rebuilt Satricum, which had been destroyed by the Latins, and settled there. A treaty was concluded between Rome and Carthage; the latter city had sent envoys to ask for a friendly alliance. As long as the succeeding consuls - T. Manlius Torquatus and C. Plautius - held office the same peaceful conditions prevailed. The rate of interest was reduced by one half and payment of the principal was to be made in four equal instalments, the first at once, the remainder in three successive years. Though many plebeians were still in distress, the senate looked upon the maintenance of public credit as more important than the removal of individual hardships. What afforded the greatest relief was the suspension of military service and the war-tax. Three years after Satricum had been rebuilt by the Volscians, whilst M. Valerius Corvus was consul for the second time with Caius Poetilius, a report was sent on from Latium that emissaries from Antium were going round the Latin cantons with the view of stirring war. Valerius was instructed to attack the Volscians before the enemy became more numerous, and he proceeded with his army to Satricum. Here he was met by the Antiates and other Volscian troops who had been previously mobilised in case of any movement on the side of Rome. The old standing hatred between the two nations made each side eager for battle; there was consequently no delay in trying conclusions. The Volscians, bolder to begin war than to sustain it, were completely defeated and fled precipitately to Satricum. The city was surrounded, and as it was on the point of being stormed - the scaling ladders were against the walls - they lost all hope and surrendered to the number of 4000 fighting men, in addition to a multitude of noncombatants. The town was sacked and burnt; the temple of Matuta the Mother was alone spared by the flames; all the plunder was given to the soldiers. In addition to the booty, there were the 4000 who had surrendered; these were marched in chains before the consul's chariot in his triumphal procession, then they were sold and a large sum was realised for the treasury. Some authors assert that these prisoners were slaves who had been captured in Satricum, and this is more likely to have been the case than that men who had surrendered should have been sold.
[7.28]M. Fabius Dorsuo and Ser. Sulpicius Camerinus were the next consuls. A sudden raid by the Auruncans led to a war with that people. Fears were entertained that more than one city was concerned in this, that in fact it had been planned by the entire Latin League. To meet all Latium in arms L. Furius Camillus was nominated Dictator; he appointed Cnaeus Manlius Capitolinus Master of the Horse. As usual in great and sudden alarms a suspension of all business was proclaimed and the enlistment was made without any claims to exemption being allowed; when it was completed the legions were marched as rapidly as possible against the Auruncans. They showed the temper of marauders rather than of soldiers, and the war was finished in the very first battle. But as they had begun the war without any provocation and had shown no reluctance to accept battle, the Dictator thought it his duty to secure the help of the gods, and during the actual fighting he vowed a temple to Juno Moneta. On his victorious return to Rome, he resigned his Dictatorship to discharge his vow. The senate ordered two commissioners to be appointed to carry out the construction of that temple in a style commensurate with the greatness of the Roman people, and a site was marked out in the Citadel where the house of M. Manlius Capitolinus had stood. The consuls employed the Dictator's army in war with the Volscians and took from them by a coup-de-main the city of Sora. The temple of Moneta was dedicated in the following year, when C. Marcius Rutilus was consul for the third time and T. Manlius Torquatus for the second. A portent followed close on the dedication similar to the old portent on the Alban Mount; a shower of stones fell and night seemed to stretch its curtain over the day. The citizens were filled with dread at this supernatural occurrence, and after the Sibylline Books had been consulted the senate decided upon the appointment of a Dictator to arrange the ceremonial observances for the appointed days. P. Valerius Publicola was nominated and Q. Fabius Ambustus was appointed Master of the Horse. It was arranged that not only the Roman tribes but also the neighbouring populations should take part in the public intercessions, and the order of the days which each was to observe was definitely laid down. There were prosecutions this year of moneylenders by the aediles, and heavy sentences are stated to have been passed on them by the people. For some reason, which is not recorded, matters reverted to an interregnum. As, however, it ended in the election of two patrician consuls, this would appear to be the reason why it was resorted to. The new consuls were M. Valerius Corvus (for the third time) and A. Cornelius Cossus.
[7.29]The history will now be occupied with wars greater than any previously recorded; greater whether we consider the forces engaged in them or the length of time they lasted, or the extent of country over which they were waged. For it was in this year (343 B.C.) that hostilities commenced with the SAMNITES, a people strong in material resources and military power. Our war with the Samnites, with its varying fortunes, was followed by the war with Pyrrhus, and that again by the war with Carthage. What a chapter of great events! How often had we to pass through the very extremity of danger in order that our dominion might be exalted to its present greatness, a greatness which is with difficulty maintained! The cause of the war between the Romans and the Samnites, who had been our friends and allies, came, however, from without; it did not arise between the two peoples themselves. The Samnites, simply because they were the stronger, made an unprovoked attack upon the Sidicines; the weaker side were compelled to fly for succour to those who were more powerful and threw in their lot with the Campanians. The Campanians brought to the help of their allies the prestige of their name rather than actual strength; enervated by luxury they were worsted by a people inured to the use of arms, and after being defeated on Sidicine territory diverted the whole weight of the war against themselves. The Samnites, dropping operations against the Sidicines, attacked the Campanians as being the mainstay and stronghold of their neighbours; they saw, too, that whilst victory would be just as easily won here, it would bring more glory and spoils. They seized the Tifata hills which overlook Capua and left a strong force to hold them, then they descended in close order into the plain which lies between the Tifata hills and Capua. Here a second battle took place, in which the Campanians were defeated and driven within their walls. They had lost the flower of their army, and as there was no hope of any assistance near, they found themselves compelled to ask for help from Rome.
[7.30]On being admitted to an audience, their envoys addressed the senate to the following effect: "Senators! the people of Capua have sent us as ambassadors to you to ask for a friendship which shall be perpetual, and for help for the present hour. Had we sought this friendship in the day of our prosperity it might have been cemented more readily, but at the same time by a weaker bond. For in that case, remembering that we had formed our friendship on equal terms, we should perhaps have been as close friends as now, but we should have been less prepared to accept your mandates, less at your mercy. Whereas now, won over by your compassion and defended in our extremity by your aid, we should be bound to cherish the kindness bestowed on us if we are not to appear ungrateful and undeserving of any help from either gods or men. I certainly do not consider that the fact of the Samnites having already become your friends and allies should be a bar to our being admitted into your friendship; it only shows that they take precedence of us in the priority and degree of the honour which you have conferred upon them. There is nothing in your treaty with them to prevent you from making fresh treaties. It has always been held amongst you to be a satisfactory reason for friendship, when he who made advances to you was anxious to be your friend. Although our present circumstances forbid us to speak proudly about ourselves, still we Campanians are second to no people, save yourselves, in the size of our city and the fertility of our soil, and we shall bring, I consider, no small accession to your prosperity by entering into your friendship. Whenever the Aequi and Volscians, the perpetual enemies of this City, make any hostile movement we shall be on their rear, and what you lead the way in doing on behalf of our safety, that we shall always continue to do on behalf of your dominion and your glory. When these nations which lie between us are subjugated - and your courage and fortune are a guarantee that this will soon come about - you will have an unbroken dominion up to our frontier. Painful and humiliating is the confession which our fortunes compel us to make; but it has come to this, senators, we Campanians must be numbered either amongst your friends or your enemies. If you defend us we are yours, if you abandon us we shall belong to the Samnites. Make up your minds, then, whether you would prefer that Capua and the whole of Campania should form an addition to your strength or should augment the power of the Samnites. It is only right, Romans, that your sympathy and help should be extended to all, but especially should it be so to those who, when others appealed to them, tried to help them beyond their strength and so have brought themselves into these dire straits. Although it was ostensibly on behalf of the Sidicines that we fought, we really fought for our own liberty, for we saw our neighbours falling victims to the nefarious brigandage of the Samnites, and we knew that when the Sidicines had been consumed the fire would sweep on to us. The Samnites are not coming to attack us because we have in any way wronged them, but because they have gladly seized upon a pretext for war. Why, if they only sought retribution and were not catching at an opportunity for satisfying their greed, ought it not to be enough for them that our legions have fallen on Sidicine territory and a second time in Campania itself? Where do we find resentment so bitter that the blood shed in two battles cannot satiate it? Then think of the destruction wrought in our fields, the men and cattle carried off, the burning and ruining of our farms, everything devastated with fire and sword cannot all this appease their rage? No, they must satisfy their greed. It is this that is hurrying them on to the storm of Capua; they are bent on either destroying that fairest of cities or making it their own. But you, Romans, should make it your own by kindness, rather than allow them to possess it as the reward of iniquity.
"I am not speaking in the presence of a nation that refuses to go to war when war is righteous, but even so, I believe if you make it clear that you will help us you will not find it necessary to go to war. The contempt which the Samnites feel for their neighbours extends to us, it does not mount any higher; the shadow of your help therefore is enough to protect us, and we shall regard whatever we have, whatever we are, as wholly yours. For you the Campanian soil shall be tilled, for you the city of Capua shall be thronged; you we shall regard as our founders, our parents, yes, even as gods; there is not a single one amongst your colonies that will surpass us in devotion and loyalty towards you. Be gracious, senators, to our prayers and manifest your divine will and power on behalf of the Campanians, and bid them entertain a certain hope that Capua will be safe. With what a vast crowd made up of every class, think you, did we start from the gates? How full of tears and prayers did we leave all behind! In what a state of expectancy are the senate and people of Capua, our wives and children, now living! I am quite certain that the whole population is standing at the gates, watching the road which leads from here, in anxious suspense as to what reply you are ordering us to carry back to them. The one answer will bring them safety, victory, light, and liberty; the other - I dare not say what that might bring. Deliberate then upon our fate, as that of men who are either going to be your friends and allies, or to have no existence anywhere."
[7.31]When the envoys had withdrawn, the senate proceeded to discuss the question. Many of the members realised how the largest and richest city in Italy, with a very productive country near the sea, could become the granary of Rome, and supply every variety of provision. Notwithstanding, however, loyalty to treaties outweighed even these great advantages, and the consul was authorised by the senate to give the following reply: "The senate is of opinion, Campanians, that you are worthy of our aid, but justice demands that friendship with you shall be established on such a footing that no older friendship and alliance is thereby impaired. Therefore we refuse to employ on your behalf against the Samnites arms which would offend the gods sooner than they injured men. We shall, as is just and right, send an embassy to our allies and friends to ask that no hostile violence be offered you." Thereupon the leader of the embassy, acting according to the instructions they had brought with them, said: "Even though you are not willing to make a just use of force against brute force and injustice in defence of what belongs to us, you will at all events defend what belongs to you. Wherefore we now place under your sway and jurisdiction, senators, and that of the Roman people, the people of Campania and the city of Capua, its fields, its sacred temples, all things human and divine. Henceforth we are prepared to suffer what we may have to suffer as men who have surrendered themselves into your hands." At these words they all burst into tears and stretching out their hands towards the consul they prostrated themselves on the floor of the vestibule.
The senators were deeply moved by this instance of the vicissitudes of human fortune, where a people abounding in wealth, famous for their pride and luxuriousness, and from whom, shortly before, their neighbours had sought assistance, were now so broken in spirit that they put themselves and all that belonged to them under the power and authority of others. It at once became a matter of honour that men who had formally surrendered themselves should not be left to their fate, and it was resolved "that the Samnite nation would commit a wrongful act if they attacked a city and territory which had by surrender become the possession of Rome." They determined to lose no time in despatching envoys to the Samnites. Their instructions were to lay before them the request of the Campanians, the reply which the senate, mindful of their friendly relations with the Samnites, had given, and lastly the surrender which had been made. They were to request the Samnites, in virtue of the friendship and alliance which existed between them, to spare those who had made a surrender of themselves and to take no hostile action against that territory which had become the possession of the Roman people. If these mild remonstrances proved ineffective, they were to solemnly warn the Samnites in the name of the senate and people of Rome to keep their hands off the city of Capua and the territory of Campania. The envoys delivered their instructions in the national council of Samnium. The reply they received was couched in such defiant terms that not only did the Samnites declare their intention of pursuing the war against Capua, but their magistrates went outside the council chamber and, in tones loud enough for the envoys to hear, ordered the prefects of cohorts to march at once into the Campanian territory and ravage it.
[7.32]When the result of this mission was reported in Rome, all other matters were at once laid aside and the fetials were sent to demand redress. This was refused and the senate decreed that a formal declaration of war should be submitted for the approval of the people as soon as possible. The people ratified the action of the senate and ordered the two consuls to start, each with his army; Valerius for Campania, where he fixed his camp at Mount Glaurus, whilst Cornelius advanced into Samnium and encamped at Saticula. Valerius was the first to come into touch with the Samnite legions. They had marched into Campania because they thought that this would be the main theatre of war, and they were burning to wreak their rage on the Campanians who had been so ready first to help others against them and then to summon help for themselves. As soon as they saw the Roman camp, they one and all clamoured for the signal for battle to be given by their leaders; they declared that the Romans would have the same luck in helping the Campanians that the Campanians had had in helping the Sidicines. For a few days Valerius confined himself to skirmishes, with the object of testing the enemy's strength. At length he put out the signal for battle and spoke a few words of encouragement to his men. He told them not to let themselves be daunted by a new war or a new enemy, for the further they carried their arms from the City the more unwarlike were the nations whom they approached. They were not to measure the courage of the Samnites by the defeats they had inflicted on the Sidicines and the Campanians; whenever two nations fought together, whatever the qualities they possessed, one side must necessarily be vanquished. There was no doubt that as far as the Campanians were concerned they owed their defeats more to their want of hardihood and the weakening effects of excessive luxury than to the strength of their enemies. What could two successful wars on the part of the Samnites through all those centuries weigh against the many brilliant achievements of the Roman people, who reckoned up almost more triumphs than years since the foundation of their City, who had subdued by the might of their arms all the surrounding nations - Sabines, Etruscans, Latins, Hernici, Aequi, Volscians, and Auruncans - who had slain the Gauls in so many battles and driven them at last to their ships? His men must not only go into action in full reliance upon their own courage and warlike reputation, but they must also remember under whose auspices and generalship they were going to fight, whether under a man who is only to be listened to provided he is a big talker, courageous only in words, ignorant of a soldier's work, or under one who himself knows how to handle weapons, who can show himself in the front, and do his duty in the melee of battle. "I want you, soldiers," he continued, "to follow my deeds not my words, and to look to me not only for the word of command but also for example. It was not by party struggles nor by the intrigues so common amongst the nobles but by my own right hand that I won three consulships and attained the highest reputation. There was a time when it might have been said to me, 'Yes, for you were a patrician descended from the liberators of our country, and your family held the consulship in the very year when this City first possessed consuls.' Now, however, the consulship is open to you, plebeians, as much as to us who are patricians; it is not the reward of high birth as it once was, but of personal merit. Look forward then, soldiers, to securing all the highest honours! If with the sanction of the gods you men have given me this new name of Corvinus, I have not forgotten the old cognomen of our family; I have not forgotten that I am a Publicola. I always study and always have studied the interests of the Roman plebs, both at home and in the field, whether as a private citizen or holding public office, whether as military tribune or as consul. I have been consistent to this aim in all my successive consulships. And now for what is immediately before us: go on with the help of heaven, and win with me for the first time a triumph over your new foes - the Samnites."
[7.33]Nowhere was there ever a general who endeared himself more to his soldiers by cheerfully sharing every duty with the humblest of his men. In the military sports when the soldiers got up contests of speed and strength among themselves he was equally ready to win or to lose, and never thought any man unworthy to be his antagonist. He showed practical kindness as circumstances required; in his language he was not less mindful of other men's liberty than of his own dignity, and what made him most popular was that he displayed the same qualities in discharging the duties of his office which he had shown as a candidate for it. Following up their commander's words, the whole army marched out of camp with extraordinary alacrity. In no battle that was ever fought did men engage with strength more equally matched, or more assured hopes of victory on both sides, or a stronger spirit of self-confidence unaccompanied, however, by any feeling of contempt for their opponents. The fighting temper of the Samnites was roused by their recent achievements and the double victory won a few days previously; the Romans on the other hand were inspired by their glorious record of four centuries of victory reaching back to the foundation of the City. But each side felt some anxiety at meeting a new and untried foe. The battle was an index to their feelings; for some time they fought so resolutely that neither line showed any signs of giving way. At length the consul, seeing that the Samnites could not be repulsed by steady fighting, determined to try the effect of a sudden shock and launched his cavalry at them. This made no impression, and as he watched them wheeling round in the narrow space between the opposing armies after their ineffective charge, having utterly failed to penetrate the enemy's line, he rode back to the front ranks of the legions, and after dismounting said: "Soldiers, this task belongs to us infantry. Come on! Wherever you see me making my way through the enemy's lines with my sword follow, and each of you do his best to cut down those in front. All that ground which is now glittering with uplifted spears you shall see cleared by a vast carnage." During these words the cavalry, at the consul's order, retired on both flanks, leaving the center clear for the legions. The consul led the charge, and slew the first man he engaged with. Fired at the sight, every man, right and left, charged straight forward and began a fight to be remembered. The Samnites did not flinch, though they were receiving more wounds than they inflicted.
The battle had now gone on for a considerable time; there was a terrible slaughter round the Samnite standards but no signs of flight anywhere, so resolved were they that death alone should be their conqueror. The Romans began to find their strength failing through fatigue and not much daylight remained, so goaded on by rage and disappointment they flung themselves madly upon their foe. Then for the first time the Samnites were seen to be giving ground and preparing to flee; they were being taken prisoners and killed in all directions, and not many would have survived had not night put an end to what was becoming a victory rather than a battle. The Romans admitted that they had never fought with a more obstinate enemy, and when the Samnites were asked what it was that first turned them, with all their determination, to flight, they said that the eyes of the Romans looked like fire, and their faces and expression like those of madmen; it was this more than anything else which filled them with terror. This terror showed itself not only in the result of the battle but also in their hurrying away in the night. The next day the Romans took possession of their empty camp, and all the population of Capua came out there to congratulate them.
[7.34]But these rejoicings were very nearly being embittered by a great disaster in Samnium. The consul Cornelius had advanced from Saticula and led his army by a mountain pass which descended into a narrow valley. All the surrounding heights were occupied by the enemy, and he did not notice them high up above him till retreat was impossible. The Samnites were waiting quietly till the whole of the column should descend into the lowest part of the valley, but meantime P. Decius, a military tribune, descried a peak jutting out on the pass which commanded the enemy's camp. This height would have been a difficult one for a heavy-armed force to climb but not for one in light marching order. Decius came up to the consul, who was in a great state of alarm, and said to him: "Do you see, A. Cornelius, that height above the enemy? If we promptly seize that position which the Samnites were blind enough to leave unoccupied, it will prove a stronghold in which all our hopes of safety will center. Do not give me more than the hastati and principes of one legion. When I have reached the summit with them you may march on out of this and save yourself and the army, for the enemy below, a mark for every missile we hurl, will not be able to move without being destroyed. Either the Fortune of Rome or our own courage will then clear the way for our escape." The consul warmly thanked him, and after being furnished with the detachment he asked for, he marched through the pass unobserved and only came into view of the enemy when he was close to the spot for which he was making. Then whilst every eye was fixed upon him in silent astonishment, he gave the consul time to withdraw his army into a more favourable position until he had halted his own men on the summit. The Samnites marched aimlessly hither and thither; they could not follow the consul except by the same path where he had been exposed to their weapons and which was now equally dangerous to them, nor could they lead a force up the hill above them which Decius had seized.
He and his men had snatched victory from their grasp, and therefore it was against him that their rage was mainly directed, whilst the nearness of the position and the paucity of its defenders were additional incentives to them to attack it. First they were bent upon investing the peaks on all sides so as to cut Decius off from the consul, then they thought of retiring and leaving the way open for him so that they could attack when he had descended into the valley. Whilst they were still in this state of indecision night overtook them. At first Decius hoped to be able to attack them from his higher ground while they were coming up the height; then he began to wonder why they did not show fight, or, at all events, if they were deterred by the nature of the ground why they did not enclose him with a circumvallation. He called the centurions round him. "What ignorance, what cowardice this is!" he exclaimed. "How on earth did those men win a victory over the Sidicines and Campanians? You see them there marching up and down, at one time forming up in close order, at another extending. We could by this time have been completely invested yet no one begins to entrench. We shall be like them if we stay here longer than we need. Come along with me and let us reconnoitre their positions while some light is still left and find out where the exit from here is open.'' Disguised in a common soldier's cloak that the enemy might not mark the general going his rounds, and with his centurions similarly attired, he made a thorough examination of all these details.
[7.35]After arranging the watches, he ordered the tessera to be given to the rest of the troops; when the bugle sounded for the second watch they were to muster round him in silence. When they had assembled in accordance with instructions, he said: "This silence, soldiers, must be maintained, and all applause as you listen to me checked. When I have laid my proposals fully before you, those of you who approve will cross over silently to the right. The opinion of the majority will be adopted. Now listen to my plans. You were not carried here in flight, nor have you been abandoned through cowardice, and the enemy are investing you. You seized this position by your courage, by your courage you must get away from it. By coming here you have saved a splendid army for Rome, now you must save yourselves by cutting your way out. Though few in number you have brought aid to many, and it is only fitting to your deserts that you yourselves should need the aid of none. We have to do with an enemy who through his slackness yesterday failed to use the chance which Fortune gave him of wiping out an entire army; who did not perceive this most useful peak hanging over his head until it had been seized by us. With all their thousands of men they did not prevent us, few as we are, from climbing it, and now that we are holding it, did they, though plenty of daylight remained, enclose us with lines of circumvallation? The enemy whom you eluded while his eyes were open, and he was on the watch, you certainly ought to evade when he is heavy with sleep. In fact, it is absolutely necessary for you to do so, for our position is such that I have rather to point out the necessity in which you are placed than to suggest any plan of action. For there can be no question as to your remaining here or departing, since Fortune has left you nothing but your arms and the courage which knows how to use them. If we show more fear of the sword than becomes men and Romans we shall have to die of hunger and thirst. Our one chance of safety, then, lies in our breaking our way through and departing. We must do that either in the daytime or at night. But this is a point which admits of little doubt; if we wait for daylight how can we hope that the enemy, who, as you see, has drawn a ring of men all round us, will not completely enclose us with entrenchments? On the other hand, if night be best for our sortie, as it most certainly is, then this hour of the night is most assuredly the fittest. You have mustered at the call for the second watch, an hour when men are buried in sleep. You will pass through them in silence, unnoticed by the sleepers, but should they become aware of your presence you will throw them into a panic by a sudden shout. You have followed me so far, follow me still, while I follow Fortune who has guided us here. Those of you who think this a safe plan step forward and pass over to the right."
[7.36]All crossed over. They then followed Decius as he moved through the intervals between the pickets. They had already got as far as the center of the Samnite lines when a soldier striding over the bodies of the sleeping sentinels made a noise by striking his shield against one of them. The sentinel awakened by the sound shook the one next him; they both jumped up and aroused others, not knowing whether friends or foes were amongst them, whether it was Decius' force breaking out or the consul capturing the camp. As they were no longer unobserved, Decius ordered his men to raise a shout, which paralysed the half-awakened sleepers with terror. In their confusion they were unable to seize their arms promptly and could neither offer any resistance nor follow up their assailants. While the Samnites were in this state of confusion and panic, the Romans, cutting down all who opposed them, made their way in the direction of the consul's camp. A considerable portion of the night still remained and they were evidently now in safety. Decius addressed them: "All honour to you, brave Romans! your march up that height and your return will be extolled in every age. But for the due recognition of such courage the light of day is needed; you have deserved something more than to carry your glory back to camp hidden in the silence of the night. We will rest here and wait for the daylight." They rested accordingly. As soon as it was light and the news was sent on to the consul in camp, there was great excitement and rejoicing, and when it was officially announced throughout the camp that the men who saved the army at the risk of their own lives had themselves returned safe and sound, they all poured out in crowds to meet them, showered congratulations upon them, gave thanks and praise to the gods, and extolled Decius to the skies. He marched through the camp in what amounted to a triumphal procession with his small force fully armed. Every eye was fixed upon him; the military tribune was treated with as much distinction as if he had been a consul. When he reached the headquarters' tent, the consul ordered the Assembly to be sounded. He was beginning to give Decius the praise he had so well earned, before the whole army, when Decius interrupted him and begged him to postpone those proceedings in view of the splendid opportunity which they now had in their hands. He accordingly dismissed the parade and followed Decius' advice, which was to attack the enemy before they had recovered from their nocturnal panic and were still stationed round the height in separate detachments; some who had been sent in pursuit were believed to be still defiling through the pass. The legions were ordered to arm for battle and were conducted by a more open route towards the enemy, as scouting parties had brought back fuller information about the locality. The attack was sudden and unexpected; the Samnites were everywhere in scattered bodies, most of them without arms, unable to secure their weapons or get into any compact formation or retire within their entrenchments. They were first driven in panic into their camp, then the camp itself was rushed and captured. The shouting rolled round the height and the detachments who had been posted to watch it fled from a foe whom they had not yet seen. Those who had fled panic-struck into their camp - some 30,000 - were all slain.
[7.37]After this success the consul summoned an Assembly, and in the presence of his fellow-soldiers pronounced a eulogy on Decius not only for his former services but also for this crowning proof of his soldierly qualities. In addition to the other military rewards he presented him with a golden chaplet and a hundred oxen, and one white one of especial beauty, the horns of which had been gilded. The men who had been with him on the height were rewarded with a standing order for double rations and also with one ox and two tunics apiece. After the consul had made the presentation, the legionaries, amidst loud cheers, placed on Decius' head an "obsidial " wreath of grass. Another similar wreath was bestowed upon him by his own men. With these decorations upon him he sacrificed the beautiful ox to Mars and presented the hundred oxen which had been given him to the men who had accompanied him on his expedition. The legionaries also contributed a pound of meal and a pint of wine for each of them. During all these proceedings enthusiastic cheering went on through the whole camp. After the rout it had suffered at the hands of Valerius, the Samnite army was determined to put its fortunes to the proof in a final conflict, and a third battle was fought at Suessula. The whole fighting strength of the nation was brought up. The alarming news was sent in haste to Capua; from there horsemen galloped to the Roman camp to beg for help from Valerius. He at once ordered an advance, and leaving a strong force to protect the camp and the baggage, proceeded by forced marches to Suessula. He selected a site for his camp not far from the enemy, and very restricted in area, as with the exception of the horses there were no baggage, animals, or camp-followers to be provided for. The Samnite army, assuming that there would be no delay in giving battle, formed their lines, and as no enemy advanced against them they marched on towards the Roman camp prepared to assault it. When they saw the soldiers on the rampart and learnt from the report of the reconnoitring parties who had been sent in every direction that the camp was of small dimensions, they concluded that only a weak force of the enemy held it. The whole army began to clamour for the fosse to be filled up and the rampart torn down that they might force their way into the camp. If the generals had not checked the impetuosity of their men, their recklessness would have terminated the war. As it was, however, their huge numbers were exhausting their supplies, and owing to their previous inaction at Suessula and the delay in bringing on an action they were not far from absolute scarcity. They determined, therefore, since, as they imagined, the enemy was afraid to venture outside his camp, to send foraging parties into the fields. Meantime they expected that as the Romans made no movement and had brought only as much corn as they could carry with the rest of their equipment on their shoulders, they, too, would soon be in want of everything. When the consul saw the enemy scattered through the fields and only a few left on outpost duty in front of the camp, he addressed a few words of encouragement to his men and led them out to storm the Samnite camp. They carried it at the first rush; more of the enemy were killed in their tents than at the gates or on the rampart. All the standards which were captured he ordered to be collected together. Leaving two legions to hold the camp, he gave strict orders that they were not to touch the booty till he returned. He went forward with his men in open column and sent the cavalry to round up the scattered Samnites, like so much game, and drive them against his army. There was an immense slaughter, for they were too much terrified to think under what standard to rally or whether to make for their camp or flee further afield. Their fears drove them into such a hasty flight that as many as 40,000 shields - far more than the number of the slain - and military standards, including those captured in the storming of the camp, to the number of 170 were brought to the consul. He then returned to the Samnite camp and all the booty there was given to the soldiers.
[7.38]The success which attended these operations made the people of Falerii anxious to convert their forty years' truce into a permanent treaty of peace with Rome. It also led the Latins to abandon their designs against Rome and employ the force they had collected against the Paelignians. The fame of these victories was not confined to the limits of Italy; even the Carthaginians sent a deputation to congratulate the senate and to present a golden crown which was to be placed in the chapel of Jupiter on the Capitol. It weighed twenty-five pounds. Both the consuls celebrated a triumph over the Samnites. A striking figure in the procession was Decius, wearing his decorations; in their extempore effusions the soldiers repeated his name as often as that of the consul. Soon after this an audience was granted to deputations from Capua and from Suessa, and at their request it was arranged that a force should be sent to winter in those two cities to act as a check upon the Samnites. Even in those days a residence in Capua was by no means conducive to military discipline; having pleasures of every kind at their command, the troops became enervated and their patriotism was undermined. They began to hatch plans for seizing Capua by the same criminal means by which its present holders had taken it from its ancient possessors. "They richly deserved," it was said, "to have the precedent which they had set turned against themselves. Why should people like the Campanians who were incapable of defending either their possessions or themselves enjoy the most fertile territory in Italy, and a city well worthy of its territory, in preference to a victorious army who had driven off the Samnites from it by their sweat and blood? Was it just that these people who had surrendered themselves into their power should be enjoying that fertile and delightful country while they, wearied with warfare, were struggling with the arid and pestilential soil round the City, or suffering the ruinous consequences of an ever-growing interest which were awaiting them in Rome?" This agitation which was being conducted in secret, only a few being yet taken into the conspirators' confidence, was discovered by the new consul, Caius Marcius Rutilus, to whom Campania had been allotted as his province, his colleague, Q. Servilius, being left in the City. Taught by years and experience - he had been four times consul as well as Dictator and censor - he thought his best course would be, after he was in possession of the facts as ascertained through the tribunes, to frustrate any chance of the soldiers carrying out their design by encouraging them in the hope of executing it whenever they pleased. The troops had been distributed amongst the cities of Campania, and the contemplated plan had been propagated from Capua throughout the entire force. The consul caused a rumour, therefore, to be spread that they were to occupy the same winter quarters the following year. As there appeared to be no necessity for their carrying out their design immediately, the agitation quieted down for the present.
[7.39]After settling the army in their summer quarters, whilst all was quiet among the Samnites the consul began to purify it by getting rid of the mutinous spirits. Some were dismissed as having served their time; others were pronounced to be incapacitated through age or infirmity; others were sent home on furlough, at first separately, then selected cohorts were sent together, on the ground that they had passed the winter far from their homes and belongings. A large number were transferred to different places, ostensibly for the needs of the service. All these the other consul and the praetor detained in Rome on various imaginary pretexts. At first, unaware of the trick that was being played upon them, they were delighted to revisit their homes. They soon, however, found out that even those who were first sent away were not rejoining the colours and that hardly any were disbanded but those who had been in Campania, and amongst these mainly the leading agitators. At first they were surprised, and then they felt a well-grounded apprehension that their plans had leaked out. "Now," they said, "we shall have to suffer court-martial, informers will give evidence against us, we shall one after another be executed in secret; the reckless and ruthless tyranny of the consuls and senators will be let loose on us." The soldiers, seeing how those who were the backbone of the conspiracy had been cleverly got rid of by the consuls, did not venture to do more than whisper these things to one another.
One cohort, which was stationed not far from Antium, took up a position at Lantulae in a narrow pass between the mountains and the sea to intercept those whom the consul was sending home on the various pretexts mentioned above. They soon grew to a very numerous body, and nothing was wanting to give it the form of a regular army except a general. They moved on into the Alban district, plundering as they went, and entrenched themselves in a camp under the hill of Alba Longa. After completing their entrenchments they spent the rest of the day in arguing about the choice of a leader, as they had not sufficient confidence in any one amongst themselves. But who could be invited from Rome? Which of the patricians or plebeians would expose himself to such peril, or to whom could the cause of an army maddened by injustice be safely committed? The next day found them still engaged in the discussion, when some of those who had been dispersed in the marauding expedition brought back the information that Titus Quinctius was cultivating a farm in the neighbourhood and had lost all interest in his City and the honourable distinctions he had won. This man belonged to a patrician house, and after achieving great reputation as a soldier, had his military career cut short by a wound which made him lame in one of his feet, and he betook himself to a rural life, far from the Forum and its party struggles. On hearing his name mentioned they recalled the man to mind, and hoping that all might turn out well they ordered an invitation to be sent to him. They hardly expected that he would come voluntarily, and prepared to intimidate him into compliance. The messengers accordingly entered his farmhouse in the dead of night and woke him up from a sound sleep, and after telling him that there was no alternative, it must either be authority and rank or, if he resisted, death, they carried him off to the camp. On his arrival he was saluted as their commander, and all dismayed as he was by the strangeness and suddenness of the affair, the insignia of his office were brought to him and he was peremptorily told to lead them to the City. Acting on their own impulse rather than their leader's advice they plucked up their standards and marched in hostile array as far as the eighth milestone on what is now the Appian Way. They would have gone on at once to the City had they not received word that an army was on its march, and that M. Valerius Corvus had been nominated Dictator, with L. Aemilius Mamercus as his Master of the Horse, to act against them.
[7.40]As soon as they came into view and recognised the arms and standards, the thought of their country instantly calmed the passions of them all. They had not yet been hardened to the sight of civic bloodshed, they knew of no wars but those against foreign foes, and secession from their own countrymen began to be looked upon as the last degree of madness. First the leaders then the men on both sides sought an opening for negotiations. Quinctius, who had had enough of fighting for his country and was the last man to fight against it, and Corvus, who was devoted to all his countrymen, especially to the soldiers and above all to his own army, came forward to a colloquy. When the latter was recognised, his opponents showed as much respect for him as his own men by the silence with which they prepared to listen to him. He addressed them as follows: "Soldiers! When I left the City I offered up prayers to the immortal gods who watch over our State, your State and mine, that they would of their goodness grant me, not a victory over you, but the glory of bringing about a reconciliation. There have been and there will be abundant opportunities for winning glory in war, on this occasion we must seek for peace. That which I implored of the immortal gods, when I offered up my prayers, you have it in your power now to grant me if you will please to remember that you are encamped not in Samnium, not amongst the Volscians, but on Roman soil. Those hills which you see are the hills of your City; I, your consul, am the man under whose auspices and leadership you twice defeated the legions of the Samnites a year ago and twice captured their camp. I am Marcus Valerius Corvus, soldiers, a patrician it is true, but my nobility has shown itself in benefits to you, not in wrongs; I have never been the author of any law bearing harshly on you or of any oppressive enactment of the senate; in all my commands I have been stricter with myself than with you. If noble birth, if personal merit, if high office, if distinguished service could make any man proud, I venture to say that such is my descent, such the proof I have given of myself, such the age at which I obtained the consulship, being only twenty-three, that I had it in my power to show myself harsh and overbearing not only to the plebs but even to the patricians. What have you heard that I have said or done as consul more than I should had I been one of your tribunes? In that spirit I administered two successive consulships, in that spirit will this dread Dictatorship be administered; I shall not be more gentle towards these soldiers of mine and of my country than to you who would be - I loathe the word - its enemies.
"You then will draw the sword against me before I shall draw it against you; if there is to be fighting it is on your side that the advance will be sounded, on your side will the battle-shout and charge begin. Make up your minds to do what your fathers and grandfathers - those who seceded to the Sacred Mount and those who afterwards took possession of the Aventine - could not make up their minds to do! Wait till your wives and mothers come out from the City with dishevelled hair to meet you as they once came to meet Coriolanus! Then the Volscian legions refrained from attacking us because they had a Roman for their general; will not you, an army of Romans, desist from an impious war? Titus Quinctius! by whatever means you were placed in your present position, whether willingly or unwillingly, if there is to be a conflict, retire, I beg you to the rearmost line; it will be more honourable for you to flee from a fellow-citizen than to fight against your country. But if there is to be peace you will take your place with honour amongst the foremost and play the part of a beneficent mediator in this conference. Demand what is just and you shall receive it, though we should acquiesce even in what is unjust rather than embrue impious hands in one another's blood." T. Quinctius, bathed in tears, turned to his men and said: "If, soldiers, I am of any use at all you will find that I am a better leader in peace than in war. The words you have heard are not those of a Volscian or a Samnite but of a Roman. They were spoken by your consul, your commander, soldiers, whose auspices you have found by experience to be favourable for you; do not desire to learn by experience what they may be when directed against you. The senate had at its disposal other generals more ready to fight against you; it has selected the one man who has showed most consideration for his soldiers, in whom you have placed most confidence as your commander. Even those who have victory in their power wish for peace, what ought we to wish for? Why do we not lay aside all resentment and ambitious hopes - those treacherous advisers - and trust ourselves and all our interests to his tried fidelity?"
[7.41]There was a universal shout of approval, and T. Quinctius advancing to the front asserted that his men would submit to the authority of the Dictator. He implored Valerius to take up the cause of his unhappy fellow-citizens, and when he had taken it up to maintain it with the same integrity that he had always shown in his public administration. For himself he demanded no conditions, he would not place his hope in anything but his innocence, but for the soldiers there must be the same guarantee that was given in the days of their fathers to the plebs and afterwards to the legions, namely, that no man should be punished for having taken part in the secession. The Dictator expressed his approval of what had been said, and after telling them all to hope for the best he galloped back to the City, and after obtaining the consent of the senate, brought a measure before the people who were assembled in the Petilian Grove granting immunity to all who had taken part in the secession. He then begged the Quirites to grant him one request, which was that no one should ever either in jest or earnest bring that matter up against any one. A military Lex Sacrata was also passed, enacting that no soldier's name should be struck off the muster-roll without his consent. An additional provision was subsequently embodied in it, forbidding any one who had once been military tribune from being made to serve afterwards as a centurion. This was in consequence of a demand made by the mutineers with respect to P. Salonius, who had been every year either military tribune or centurion of the first class. They were incensed against him because he had always opposed their mutinous projects and had fled from Lautulae to avoid being mixed up with them. As this proposal was aimed solely at Salonius the senate refused to allow it. Then Salonius himself appealed to the senators not to consider his dignity of more importance than the harmony of the State, and at his request they ultimately passed it. Another demand just as impudent was that the pay of the cavalry should be reduced - at that time they were receiving three times the infantry pay - because they had acted against the mutineers.
[7.42]In addition to these measures I find the following recorded by various authorities. L. Genucius, a tribune of the plebs, brought before them a measure declaring usury illegal, whilst other resolutions were adopted forbidding any one to accept re-election to the same office in less than ten years or fill two offices in the same year, and also that both consuls might legally be elected from the plebs. If all these concessions were really made it is quite clear that the revolt possessed considerable strength. In other annalists it is stated that Valerius was not nominated Dictator, but the matter was entirely arranged by the consuls; also that it was not before they came to Rome but in Rome itself that the body of conspirators broke out into armed revolt; also that it was not to T. Quinctius' farm but to the house of C. Manlius that the nocturnal visit was paid, and that it was Manlius who was seized by the conspirators and made their leader, after which they marched out to a distance of four miles and entrenched themselves; also that it was not their leaders who made the first suggestions of concord, but what happened was that as the two armies advanced towards each other prepared for action the soldiers exchanged mutual greetings, and as they drew nearer grasped each other's hands and embraced one another, and the consuls, seeing how averse the soldiers were from fighting, yielded to circumstances and made proposals to the senate for reconciliation and concord. Thus the ancient authorities agree in nothing but the simple fact that there was a mutiny and that it was suppressed. The report of this disturbance and the seriousness of the war which had been commenced with the Samnites made many nationalities averse from an alliance with Rome. The Latins had long been faithless to their treaty, and in addition to that the Privernates made a sudden incursion and devastated the neighbouring Roman colonies of Norba and Setia.
End of Book 7
Copyright (c) 1996 by Bruce J. Butterfield.
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