Book 8: The First Samnite War and Settlement of Latium - (341 - 321 B.C.)
[8.1]When messengers from Setia and Norba arrived in Rome with complaints of a defeat they had suffered at the hands of the revolted Privernates, the consulship was held by C. Plautius (for the second time) and L. Aemilius Mamercus. News was also brought that an army of Volscians led by the people of Antium had concentrated at Satricum. Both wars fell to Plautius. He marched first to Privernum and at once engaged the enemy who were defeated without much trouble The town was captured and then given back to the Privernates after a strong garrison had been placed in it; two-thirds of their territory were confiscated. Then the victorious army was led against the Antiates at Satricum. There a battle was fought with terrible bloodshed on both sides, and whilst the result was still uncertain night separated the combatants. The Romans were in no way discouraged by the indecisiveness of the conflict, and prepared for battle the next day. The Volscians, after reckoning up their losses in the battles, were by no means eager to run any further risk; looking upon themselves as defeated, they made a hurried departure to Antium in the night, leaving their wounded and a part of their baggage behind. An immense quantity of arms was found both amongst the dead on the field and in the camp. These the consul said he was offering to Lua Mater. He then ravaged the enemy's territories down to the sea-board. When the other consul entered the Sabellian territory, he found that the Samnites had no camp, no legions confronting him. Whilst he was laying waste their fields with fire and sword, envoys came to him to ask for peace and he referred them to the senate. After permission had been given them to state their case, they laid aside their truculent manner and requested that peace might be granted them and also the right of making war against the Sidicines. They considered that they were the more justified in making this request because they had formed friendly relations with Rome when their affairs were prosperous, not as in the case of the Campanians when they were in adversity, and they were taking up arms against the Sidicines, who had always been their enemies and never friends of Rome, who had not, like the Samnites, sought its friendship in a time of peace, nor like the Campanians, asked for its help in a time of war, and who were not under the protection and suzerainty of Rome.
[8.2]The praetor, T. Aemilius, put these demands to the senate, and they decided that the former treaty should be renewed with them. The reply given then by the praetor was to the effect that it was no fault of the Roman people that the friendship with them had not remained unbroken, and there was no objection to its being re-established since they themselves were weary of a war brought on them by their own fault. As to the Sidicines there was nothing to prevent the Samnites from being free to make either peace or war. After the treaty was made the Roman army was at once withdrawn. The men had received a year's pay and three months' rations, for which the consul had stipulated, that he might allow time for an armistice until the envoys returned. The Samnites advanced against the Sidicines with the same troops that they had employed in the war with Rome, and they were very hopeful of effecting an early capture of the city. Then at last the Sidicines took steps to make a surrender of themselves to Rome. The senate rejected it as being made too late and forced from them by extreme necessity. They then made it to the Latins who were already in arms on their own account. Even the Campanians did not refuse to take part in the hostile movement, so much keener was their sense of the injuries inflicted by the Samnites than of the kindness shown them by Rome. One immense army, composed of these many nationalities and under Latin leadership, invaded the Samnite country and inflicted more disasters by ravages than by actual fighting. Although the Latins proved superior in the various encounters, they were not loath to retire from the enemy's territory lest they might have to fight too often. This allowed the Samnites time to send envoys to Rome. When they were admitted to an audience they complained to the senate that they were suffering more now that they were in treaty with them than they had before, when they were enemies; they very humbly requested them to be satisfied with having snatched from them the victory they had won over the Campanians and the Sidicines, and not permit them, in addition, to be conquered by these most cowardly people. If the Latins and Campanians were really under the suzerainty of Rome they should exert their authority to keep them off the Samnite land, if they renounced that suzerainty they should coerce them by force. They received an ambiguous reply, for the senate shrank from acknowledging that the Latins no longer recognised their authority, and on the other hand they were afraid, if they reprimanded them, that they might alienate them altogether. The circumstances of the Campanians were quite different; they were bound not by treaty but by the terms of surrender, and they must keep quiet whether they would or no. There was nothing in their treaty with the Latins which prevented them from making war with whom they pleased.
[8.3]With this reply the Samnites were dismissed, quite uncertain as to what the Romans were going to do. But its effect was to completely estrange the Campanians, who now feared the worst, and it made the Latins more determined than ever, since the Romans refused any further concessions. Under the pretext of making preparations for a Samnite war, they held frequent meetings of their national council, and in all the consultations of their leaders they hatched plans in secret for war with Rome. The Campanians also took part in this movement against their preservers. But in spite of the careful secrecy with which everything was being conducted - for they wanted the Samnites to be dislodged from their rear before the Romans made any movement - some who had friends and relatives in Rome sent hints about the league which was being formed. The consuls were ordered to resign before the expiry of their year of office in order that the new consuls might be elected at an earlier date in view of such a formidable war. There were religious difficulties in the way of the elections being held by those whose tenure of office had been curtailed, and so an interregnum commenced. There were two interreges, M. Valerius and M. Fabius. The latter elected T. Manlius Torquatus (for the third time) and P. Decius Mus as consuls. It was in this year (341 B.C.), it appears, that Alexander, King of Epirus, landed in Italy, and there is no doubt that had he been fairly successful at first that war would have extended to Rome. This, too, was about the time of the achievements of Alexander the Great, the son of this man's sister, who, after proving himself invincible in another region of the globe, was cut off, whilst a young man, by disease. Although there could be no doubt as to the revolt of their allies - the Latin league - still, as though they were concerned for the Samnites and not for themselves, the Romans invited the ten chiefs of the league to Rome to give them instructions as to what they wanted. Latium at that time had two praetors, L. Annius of Setia and L. Numisius of Cerceii, both belonging to the Roman colonists. Through these men not only had Signia and Velitrae, themselves Roman colonies, but the Volsci also been instigated to take up arms. It was decided that they should be particularly invited by name. No one had the slightest doubt as to the reason for this invitation. A meeting of their council was accordingly held prior to their departure; they informed those present that they had been asked by the senate to go to Rome, and they requested them to decide as to what reply they should give with reference to the matters which they had reason to suppose would be discussed.
[8.4]After various opinions had been expressed, Annius spoke as follows: "Although it was I who put the question to you as to what answer should be given, I still think that it is of more importance to the interests of the State to decide what must be done rather than what must be said. When our plans are developed it will be easy enough to fit words to facts. If even now we are capable of submitting to servitude under the shadowy pretext of a treaty on equal terms, what is to prevent us from deserting the Sidicines and receiving our orders not only from the Romans but even from the Samnites, and giving as our reply that we are ready to lay down our arms at the beck and call of the Romans? But if your hearts are at last touched by any yearning for independence; if a treaty, an alliance, an equality of rights really exists; if we are at liberty to boast of the fact that the Romans are of the same stock as ourselves, though once we were ashamed of it; if our army, which when united with theirs doubles their strength, and which the consuls will not dispense with when conducting wars which concern them alone - if, I say, that army is really an army of their allies, then why are we not on an equal footing in all respects? Why is not one consul elected from the Latins? Those who possess half the strength, do they possess half the government? This is not in itself too much honour for us, seeing that we acknowledge Rome to be the head of Latium, but we have made it appear so by our prolonged forbearance.
"But if ever you longed for an opportunity of taking your place in the government and of making use of your liberty, now is the time; this is the opportunity which has been given you by your own courage and the goodness of the gods. You tried their patience by refusing to supply troops. Who doubts that they were intensely irritated when we broke through a custom more than two centuries old? Still they put up with the annoyance. We waged war with the Paelignians on our own account; they who before did not allow us the right to defend our own frontiers did not intervene. They heard that the Sidicines were received into our protection, that the Campanians had revolted from them to us, that we were preparing an army to act against the Samnites with whom they had a treaty, they never moved out of their City. What was this extraordinary self-restraint due to but to a consciousness of our strength and of theirs? I have it on good authority that when the Samnites were laying their complaints about us they received a reply from the Roman senate, from which it was quite evident that they themselves do not now claim that Latium is under the authority of Rome. Make your rights effective by insisting on what they are tacitly conceding to you. If any one is afraid of saying this, I declare my readiness to say it not only in the ears of the Roman people and their senate but in the audience of Jupiter himself who dwells in the Capitol, and to tell them that if they wish us to remain in alliance with them they must accept one consul from us and half their senate." His speech was followed by a universal shout of approval, and he was empowered to do and to say whatever he deemed to be in furtherance of the interests of the State of Latium and of his own honour.
[8.5]On their arrival in Rome, the senate assembled in the Capitol and granted them an audience. T. Manlius, the consul, acting on the instructions of the senate, recommended them not to make war upon the Samnites, with whom the Romans had a treaty, on which Annius, as though he were a conquerer who had captured the Capitol by arms instead of an ambassador protected by the law of nations, said: "It is about time, Titus Manlius and senators, that you gave up treating us as though you were our suzerains, when you see the State of Latium raised by the bounty of the gods to a most flourishing position, both in population and in military power, the Samnites defeated, the Sidicines and Campanians in alliance with us, even the Volscians now making common cause with us, whilst your own colonies actually prefer the government of Latium to that of Rome. But since you cannot bring your minds to abandon your impudent claims to sovereignty, we will go so far, in recognising that we are kindred nations, as to offer peace upon the conditions of equal rights for both, since it has pleased the gods to grant equal strength to both; though we are quite able to assert the independence of Latium by force of arms. One consul must be elected from Rome, the other from Latium; the senate must contain an equal number of members from both nations; there must be one nation, one republic. And in order that there may be one seat of government and one name for all, since one side or the other must make some concession, let us, if this City really takes precedence, be all called Romans."
It so happened that the Romans had in their consul T. Manlius, a man who was quite as proud and passionate as Annius. He was so enraged as to declare that if the senate were visited by such madness as to accept these conditions from a man from Setia, he would come with his sword drawn into the Senate-house and kill every Latin he found there. Then turning to the image of Jupiter, he exclaimed: "Hear, O Jupiter, these abominable words! Hear them, O Justice and Right! Thou, Jupiter, as though thou hadst been conquered and made captive, art to see in thy temple foreign consuls and a foreign senate! Were these the terms of the treaty, Latins, which Tullus, the King of Rome, made with your fathers of Alba, or which L. Tarquin made with you afterwards? Have you forgotten the battle at Lake Regillus? Are you so utterly oblivious of your defeats in the old days and of our kindness towards you?" This outburst was followed by the indignant protest of the senate, and it is recorded that whilst on all hands appeals were being made to the gods, whom the consuls were continually invoking as the guardians of treaties, the voice of Annius was heard pouring contempt upon the divine majesty of the Jupiter of Rome. At all events when, in a storm of passion he was flinging himself out of the vestibule of the temple, he slipped down the steps and struck his head so heavily against the bottom step that he became unconscious. The authorities are not agreed as to whether he was actually killed, and I leave the question undecided, as also the statement that during the appeals to the gods to avenge the breach of treaties, a storm burst from the sky with a terrific roar; for they may either be true or simply invented as an appropriate representation of the wrath of the gods. Torquatus was sent by the senate to conduct the envoys away and when he saw Annius lying on the ground he exclaimed, loud enough to be heard by the senators and populace alike: 'It is well. The gods have commenced a just and righteous war! There is a divine power at work; thou, O Great Jupiter, art here! Not in vain have we consecrated this to be shine abode, O Father of gods and men! Why do you hesitate, Quirites, and you, senators, to take up arms when the gods are your leaders? I will lay the legions of the Latins low, just as you see their envoy lying here." The consul's words were received by the people with loud applause and raised them to such a pitch of excitement that when the envoys took their departure they owed their safety more to the care of the magistrates who, on the consul's order, accompanied them to protect them from the attacks of the angry people than to any respect felt for the law of nations.
War having been decided upon by senate as much as people, the consuls enrolled two armies and proceeded through the territories of the Marsi and Paeligni, where they were joined by an army of Samnites. They fixed their camp at Capua, where the Latins and their allies had assembled. It is said that whilst they were there each consul had the same vision in the quiet of the night. A Form greater and more awful than any human form appeared to them and announced that the commander of the one army and the army itself on the other side were destined as a sacrifice to the Dii Manes and to Mother Earth. In whichever army the commander should have devoted the legions of his enemies and himself as well to those deities, that army, that people would have the victory. When the consuls compared these visions of the night together, they decided that victims should be slain to avert the wrath of the gods, and further, that if, on inspection, they should portend the same as the vision had announced, one of the two consuls should fulfil his destiny. When the answers of the soothsayers after they had inspected the victims, proved to correspond with their own secret belief in the vision, they called up the superior officers and told them to explain publicly to the soldiers what the gods had decreed, in order that the voluntary death of a consul might not create a panic in the army. They arranged with each other that when either division began to give way, the consul in command of it should devote himself on behalf of the Roman people and the Quirites." The council of war also decided that if ever any war had been conducted with the strict enforcement of orders, on this occasion certainly, military discipline should be brought back to the ancient standard. Their anxiety was increased by the fact that it was against the Latins that they had to fight, a people resembling them in language, manners, arms, and especially in their military organisation. They had been colleagues and comrades, as soldiers, centurions, and tribunes, often stationed together in the same posts and side by side in the same maniples. That this might not prove a source of error and confusion, orders were given that no one was to leave his post to fight with the enemy.
[8.7]Amongst the troop commanders, who had been sent out everywhere to reconnoitre, there happened to be T. Manlius, the consul's son. He had ridden out with his men by the enemy's camp and was hardly a stone's-throw from their nearest post, where the Tusculan cavalry were stationed, when Geminus Maecius, who was in command, a man of high reputation amongst his own people, recognised the Roman cavalry and the consul's son at their head, for they were all - especially the men of distinction - known to each other. Accosting Manlius he said: "Are you going to conduct the war against the Latins and their allies with that single troop of yours? What will the consuls, what will their two armies be doing in the meantime?" "They will be here in good time, Manlius replied, "and so will Jupiter, the Great and Powerful, the witness of your breach of faith. If we fought at Lake Regillus till you had quite enough, certainly we shall succeed here also in preventing you from finding too much pleasure in meeting us in battle." In reply, Geminus rode forward a short distance and said: "Are you willing, before the day comes when you are to set your armies in motion for so great an effort, to have a meeting with me that the result of our single combat may show how much a Latin horseman is superior to a Roman?" Either urged on by anger or feeling ashamed to decline the contest, or dragged on by the irresistible power of destiny, the high-spirited youth forgot the consul's edict and the obedience due to a father and rushed headlong into a contest in which victory or defeat were alike fatal. The rest of the cavalry retired to remain spectators of the fray; the two combatants selected a clear space over which they charged each other at full gallop with levelled spears. Manlius' lance passed above his adversary's helmet, Maecius' across the neck of the other's horse. They wheeled their horses round, and Manlius standing in his stirrups was the first to get in a second stroke; he thrust his lance between the horse's ears. Feeling the wound the horse reared, shook its head violently, and threw its rider off. Whilst he was trying to rise after his heavy fall by supporting himself with his lance and shield, Manlius drove his lance right through his body and pinned him to the earth. After despoiling the body he returned to his men, and amidst their exulting shouts entered the camp and went straight to his father at the headquarters' tent, not in the least realising the nature of his deed or its possible consequences, whether praise or punishment. "That all may say, my father," he said, "that I am a true scion of your blood, I bring to you these equestrian spoils taken from a dead enemy who challenged me to single combat." On hearing this the consul turned away from his son and ordered the trumpet to sound the Assembly.
The soldiers mustered in large numbers and the consul began: "Since you, T. Manlius, have shown no regard for either the authority of a consul or the obedience due to a father, and in defiance of our edict have left your post to fight against the enemy, and have done your best to destroy the military discipline through which the Roman State has stood till now unshaken, and have forced upon me the necessity of forgetting either my duty to the republic or my duty to myself and my children, it is better that we should suffer the consequences of our offence ourselves than that the State should expiate our crime by inflicting great injury upon itself. We shall be a melancholy example, but one that will be profitable to the young men of the future. My natural love of my children and that proof of courage which from a false sense of honour you have given, move me to take your part, but since either the consuls authority must be vindicated by your death or for ever abrogated by letting you go unpunished, I would believe that even you yourself, if there is a drop of my blood in your veins, will not shrink from restoring by your punishment the military discipline which has been weakened by your misconduct. Go, lictor, bind him to the stake." All were paralysed by such a ruthless order; they felt as if the axe was directed against each of them; fear rather than discipline keep them motionless. For some moments they stood transfixed in silence, then suddenly, when they saw the blood pouring from his severed neck, their voices rose in unrestrained and angry complaint; they spared neither laments nor curses. The body of the youth covered with his spoils was cremated on a pyre erected outside the rampart, with all the funeral honours that the soldiers' devotion could pay. "Manlian orders" were not only regarded with horror for the time, but were looked upon as setting a frightful precedent for the future.
[8.8]The terrible severity of the punishment, however, made the soldiers more obedient to their general, and not only did it lead to greater attention being paid to the pickets and sentry duties and the ordering of the outposts, but when they went into battle for the final contest, this severity proved to be of the greatest service. The battle was exactly like one fought in a civil war; there was nothing in the Latin army different from the Roman except their courage. At first the Romans used the large round shield called the clipeus, afterwards, when the soldiers received pay, the smaller oblong shield called the scutum was adopted. The phalanx formation, similar to the Macedonian of the earlier days, was abandoned in favour of the distribution into companies (manipuli); the rear portion being broken up into smaller divisions. The foremost line consisted of the hastati, formed into fifteen companies, drawn up at a short distance from each other. These were called the light-armed companies, as whilst one-third carried a long spear (hasta) and short iron javelins, the remainder carried shields. This front line consisted of youths in the first bloom of manhood just old enough for service. Behind them were stationed an equal number of companies, called principes, made up of men in the full vigour of life, all carrying shields and furnished with superior weapons. This body of thirty companies were called the antepilani. Behind them were the standards under which were stationed fifteen companies, which were divided into three sections called vexillae, the first section in each was called the pilus, and they consisted of 180 men to every standard (vexillum). The first vexillum was followed by the triarii, veterans of proved courage; the second by the rorarii, or "skirmishers," younger men and less distinguished; the third by the accensi, who were least to be depended upon, and were therefore placed in the rearmost line.
When the battle formation of the army was completed, the hastati were the first to engage. If they failed to repulse the enemy, they slowly retired through the intervals between the companies of the principes who then took up the fight, the hastati following in their rear. The triarii, meantime, were resting on one knee under their standards, their shields over their shoulders and their spears planted on the ground with the points upwards, giving them the appearance of a bristling palisade. If the principes were also unsuccessful, they slowly retired to the triarii, which has given rise to the proverbial saying, when people are in great difficulty "matters have come down to the triarii." When the triarii had admitted the hastati and principes through the intervals separating their companies they rose from their kneeling posture and instantly closing their companies up they blocked all passage through them and in one compact mass fell on the enemy as the last hope of the army. The enemy who had followed up the others as though they had defeated them, saw with dread a now and larger army rising apparently out of the earth. There were generally four legions enrolled, consisting each of 5000 men, and 300 cavalry were assigned to each legion. A force of equal size used to be supplied by the Latins, now, however, they were hostile to Rome. The two armies were drawn up in the same formation, and they knew that if the maniples kept their order they would have to fight, not only vexilla with vexilla, hastati with hastati, principes with principes, but even centurion with centurion. There were amongst the triarii two centurions, one in each army - the Roman, possessing but little bodily strength but an energetic and experienced soldier, the Latin, a man of enormous strength and a splendid fighter - very well known to each other because they had always served in the same company. The Roman, distrusting his own strength, had obtained the consuls' permission before leaving Rome to choose his own sub-centurion to protect him from the man who was destined to be his enemy. This youth, finding himself face to face with the Latin centurion, gained a victory over him.
[8.9]The battle took place near the base of Mount Vesuvius, where the road led to Veseris. Before leading out their armies to battle the consuls offered sacrifice. The haruspex, whose duty it was to inspect the different organs in the victims, pointed out to Decius a prophetic intimation of his death, in all other respects the signs were favourable. Manlius' sacrifice was entirely satisfactory. "It is well," said Decius, "if my colleague has obtained favourable signs." They moved forward to battle in the formation I have already described, Manlius in command of the right division, Decius of the left. At first both armies fought with equal strength and equal determination. After a time the Roman hastati on the left, unable to withstand the insistency of the Latins, retired behind the principes. During the temporary confusion created by this movement, Decius exclaimed in a loud voice to M. Valerius: "Valerius, we need the help of the gods! Let the Pontifex Maximus dictate to me the words in which I am to devote myself for the legions." The Pontifex bade him veil his head in his toga praetexta, and rest his hand, covered with the toga, against his chin, then standing upon a spear to say these words: "Janus, Jupiter, Father Mars, Quirinus, Bellona, Lares, ye Novensiles and Indigetes, deities to whom belongs the power over us and over our foes, and ye, too, Divine Manes, I pray to you, I do you reverence, I crave your grace and favour that you will bless the Roman People, the Quirites, with power and victory, and visit the enemies of the Roman People, the Quirites, with fear and dread and death. In like manner as I have uttered this prayer so do I now on behalf of the commonwealth of the Quirites, on behalf of the army, the legions, the auxiliaries of the Roman People, the Quirites, devote the legions and auxiliaries of the enemy, together with myself to the Divine Manes and to Earth." After this prayer he ordered the lictors to go to T. Manlius and at once announce to his colleague that he had devoted himself on behalf of the army. He then girded himself with the Gabinian cincture, and in full armour leaped upon his horse and dashed into the middle of the enemy. To those who watched him in both armies, he appeared something awful and superhuman, as though sent from heaven to expiate and appease all the anger of the gods and to avert destruction from his people and bring it on their enemies. All the dread and terror which he carried with him threw the front ranks of the Latins into confusion which soon spread throughout the entire army. This was most evident, for wherever his horse carried him they were paralysed as though struck by some death-dealing star; but when he fell, overwhelmed with darts, the Latin cohorts, in a state of perfect consternation, fled from the spot and left a large space clear. The Romans, on the other hand, freed from all religious fears, pressed forward as though the signal was then first given and commenced a great battle. Even the rorarii rushed forward between the companies of antepilani and added strength to the hastati and principes, whilst the triarii, kneeling on their right knee, waited for the consul's signal to rise
[8.10]When Manlius heard the fate of his colleague, he honoured his glorious death with tears no less than with the due meed of praise. Meantime the battle proceeded, and in some quarters the weight of numbers was giving the advantage to the Latins. For some time Manlius was in doubt whether the moment had not come for calling up the triarii, but judging it better for them to be kept fresh till the final crisis of the battle, he gave orders for the accensi at the extreme rear to advance to the front. When they came up, the Latins, taking them for the opposing triarii, instantly called up their own. In the desperate struggle they had tired themselves out and broken or blunted their spears, but as they were still driving the enemy back by main force, they imagined that the battle was decided and that they had reached their last line. Then it was that the consul said to his triarii: "Rise up now, fresh and vigorous against a wearied foe; think of your country and your parents and wives and children; think of your consul lying there dead that ye might win the victory!" They rose up fresh and resplendent in their armour, as though a new army had suddenly sprung up, and after letting the antepilani retire through them they raised their battle-shout. The front ranks of the Latins were thrown into disorder, the Romans thrust their spears into their faces, and in this way killed the main support of their army. They went on without being touched through the remaining companies as though through a crowd of unarmed men, and they marked their advance with such a slaughter that they left hardly a fourth part of the enemy. The Samnites, too, who were drawn up close to the lowest spurs of the mountain, were threatening the Latins on their flank, and so adding to their demoralisation.
The chief credit for that successful battle was given by all, Romans and allies alike, to the two consuls - one of whom had diverted on to himself alone all the dangers that threatened from the gods supernal and the gods infernal, whilst the other had shown such consummate generalship in the battle itself that the Roman and Latin historians who have left an account of it, are quite agreed that whichever side had had T. Manlius as their commander must have won the victory. After their flight the Latins took refuge in Menturnae. Their camp was captured after the battle, and many were killed there, mostly Campanians. The body of Decius was not found that day, as night overtook those who were searching for it, the next day it was discovered, buried beneath a heap of javelins and with an immense number of the enemy lying round it. His obsequies were conducted by his colleague in a manner befitting that glorious death. I ought to add here that a consul or Dictator or praetor, when he devotes the legions of the enemy, need not necessarily devote himself but may select any one he chooses out of a legion that has been regularly enrolled. If the man who has been so devoted is killed, all is considered to have been duly performed. If he is not killed, an image of the man, seven feet high at least, must be buried in the earth, and a victim slain as an expiatory sacrifice; on the spot, where such an image has been buried, no Roman magistrate must ever set his foot. If, as in the case of Decius, the commander devotes himself but survives the battle, he can no longer discharge any religious function, either on his own account or on behalf of the State. He has the right to devote his arms, either by offering a sacrifice or otherwise, to Vulcan or to any other deity. The spear on which the consul stands, when repeating the formula of devotion, must not pass into the enemy's hands; should this happen a suovetaurilia must be offered as a propitiation to Mars.
[8.11]Although the memory of every traditional custom relating to either human or divine things has been lost through our abandonment of the old religion of our fathers in favour of foreign novelties, I thought it not alien from my subject to record these regulations in the very words in which they have been handed down. In some authors I find it stated that it was only after the battle was over that the Samnites who had been waiting to see the result came to support the Romans. Assistance was also coming to the Latins from Lanuvium whilst time was being wasted in deliberation, but whilst they were starting and a part of their column was already on the march, news came of the defeat of the Latins. They faced about and re-entered their city, and it is stated that Milionius, their praetor, remarked that for that very short march they would have to pay a heavy price to Rome. Those of the Latins who survived the battle retreated by many different routes, and gradually assembled in the city of Vescia. Here the leaders met to discuss the situation, and Numisius assured them that both armies had really experienced the same fortune and an equal amount of bloodshed; the Romans enjoyed no more than the name of victory, in every other respect they were as good as defeated. The headquarters of both consuls were polluted with blood; the one had murdered his son, the other had devoted himself to death; their whole army was massacred, their hastati and principes killed; the companies both in front of and behind the standards had suffered enormous losses; the triarii in the end saved the situation. The Latin troops, it was true, were equally cut up, but Latium and the Volsci could supply reinforcements more quickly than Rome. If, therefore, they approved, he would at once call out the fighting men from the Latin and Volscian peoples and march back with an army to Capua, and would take the Romans unawares; a battle was the last thing they were expecting. He despatched misleading letters throughout Latium and the Volscian country, those who had not been engaged in the battle being the more ready to believe what he said, and a hastily levied body of militia, drawn from all quarters, was got together. This army was met by the consul at Trifanum, a place between Sinuessa and Menturnae. Without waiting even to choose the sites for their camps, the two armies piled their baggage, fought and finished the war, for the Latins were so utterly worsted that when the consul with his victorious army was preparing to ravage their territory, they made a complete surrender and the Campanians followed their example. Latium and Capua were deprived of their territory. The Latin territory, including that of Privernum, together with the Falernian, which had belonged to the Campanians as far as the Volturnus, was distributed amongst the Roman plebs. They received two jugera a head in the Latin territory, their allotment being made up by three-quarters of a jugerum in the Privernate district; in the Falernian district they received three entire jugera, the additional quarter being allowed owing to the distance. The Laurentes, amongst the Latins and the aristocracy of the Campanians, were not thus penalised because they had not revolted. An order was made for the treaty with the Laurentes to be renewed, and it has since been renewed annually on the tenth day after the Latin Festival. The Roman franchise was conferred on the aristocracy of Campania, and a brazen tablet recording the fact was fastened up in Rome in the temple of Castor, and the people of Campania were ordered to pay them each - they numbered 1600 in all - the sum of 450 denarii annually.
[8.12]The war having been thus brought to a close, and rewards and punishments having been meted out to each according to their deserts, T. Manlius returned to Rome. There seems good reason for believing that only the older men went out to meet him on his arrival, the younger part of the population showed their aversion and detestation for him not only then but all through his life. The Antiates made incursions into the territories of Ostia, Ardea, and Solonia. Manlius' health prevented him from prosecuting this war, so he nominated L. Papirius Crassus as Dictator, and he named L. Papirius Cursor as his Master of the Horse. No important action was taken by the Dictator against the Antiates, though he had a permanent camp in their country for some months. This year had been signalised by victories over many powerful nations, and still more by the noble death of one consul, and the stern, never-to-be-forgotten exercise of authority on the part of the other. It was followed by the consulship of Titus Aemilius Mamercinus and Q. Publilius Philo. They did not meet with similar materials out of which to build a reputation, nor did they study the interests of their country so much as their own or those of the political factions in the republic. The Latins resumed hostilities to recover the domain they had lost, but were routed in the Fenectane plains and driven out of their camp. There Publilius, who had achieved this success, received into surrender the Latin cities who had lost their men there, whilst Aemilius led his army to Pedum. This place was defended by a combined force from Tibur, Praeneste, and Velitrae, and help was also sent from Lanuvium and Antium. In the various battles the Romans had the advantage, but at the city itself, and at the camp of the allied forces which adjoined the city, their work had to be done all over again. The consul suddenly abandoned the war before it was brought to a close, because he heard that a triumph had been decreed to his colleague, and he actually returned to Rome to demand a triumph before he had won a victory. The senate were disgusted at this selfish conduct, and made him understand that he would have no triumph till Pedum had either been taken or surrendered. This produced a complete estrangement between Aemilius and the senate, and he thenceforth administered his consulship in the spirit and temper of a seditious tribune. As long as he was consul he perpetually traduced the senate to the people, without any opposition from his colleague, who himself also belonged to the plebs. Material for his charges was afforded by the dishonest allocation of the Latin and Falernian domain amongst the plebs, and after the senate, desirous of restricting the consuls' authority, had issued an order for the nomination of a Dictator to act against the Latins, Aemilius, whose turn it then was to have the fasces, nominated his own colleague, who named Junius Brutus as his Master of the Horse. He made his Dictatorship popular by delivering incriminatory harangues against the senate and also by carrying three measures which were directed against the nobility and were most advantageous to the plebs. One was that the decisions of the plebs should be binding on all the Quirites; the second, that measures which were brought before the Assembly of centuries should be sanctioned by the patricians before being finally put to the vote; the third, that since it had come about that both censors could legally be appointed from the plebs, one should in any case be always chosen from that order. The patricians considered that the consuls and the Dictator had done more to injure the State by their domestic policy than to strengthen its power by their successes in the field.
[8.13]The consuls for the next year were L. Furius Camillus and C. Maenius. In order to bring more discredit upon Aemilius for his neglect of his military duties the previous year, the senate insisted that no expenditure of arms and men must be spared in order to reduce and destroy Pedum. The new consuls were peremptorily ordered to lay aside everything else and march at once. The state of affairs in Latium was such that they would neither maintain peace nor undertake war. For war their resources were utterly inadequate, and they were smarting too keenly under the loss of their territory to think of peace. They decided, therefore, on a middle course, namely, to confine themselves to their towns, and if they were informed of any town being attacked, to send assistance to it from the whole of Latium. The people of Tibur and Praeneste, who were the nearest, reached Pedum, but the troops from Aricium, Lanuvium, and Veliternae, in conjunction with the Volscians of Antium, were suddenly attacked and routed by Maenius at the river Astura. Camillus engaged the Tiburtines who were much the strongest force, and, though with greater difficulty, achieved a similar success. During the battle the townsmen made a sudden sortie, but Camillus, directing a part of his army against them, not only drove them back within their walls, but stormed and captured the town, after routing the troops sent to their assistance, all in one day. After this successful attack on one city, they decided to make a greater and bolder effort and to lead their victorious army on to the complete subjugation of Latium. They did not rest until, by capturing or accepting the surrender of one city after another, they had effected their purpose. Garrisons were placed in the captured towns, after which they returned to Rome to enjoy a triumph which was by universal consent accorded to them. An additional honour was paid to the two consuls in the erection of their equestrian statues in the Forum, a rare incident in that age.
Before the consular elections for the following year were held, Camillus brought before the senate the question of the future settlement of Latium. "Senators," he said, "our military operations in Latium have by the gracious favour of the gods and the bravery of our troops been brought to successful close. The hostile armies were cut down at Pedum and the Astura, all the Latin towns and the Volscian Antium have either been stormed or have surrendered and are now held by your garrisons. We are growing weary of their constant renewal of hostilities, it is for you to consult as to the best means of binding them to a perpetual peace. The immortal gods have made you so completely masters of the situation that they have put it into your hands to decide whether there shall be hence-forth a Latium or not. So far, then, as the Latins are concerned, you can secure for yourselves a lasting peace by either cruelty or kindness. Do you wish to adopt ruthless measures against a people that have surrendered and been defeated? It is open to you to wipe out the whole Latin nation and create desolation and solitude in that country which has furnished you with a splendid army of allies which you have employed in many great wars. Or do you wish to follow the example of your ancestors and make Rome greater by conferring her citizenship on those whom she has defeated? The materials for her expansion to a glorious height are here at hand. That is assuredly the most firmly-based empire, whose subjects take a delight in rendering it their obedience. But whatever decision you come to, you must make haste about it. You are keeping so many peoples in suspense, with their minds distracted between hope and fear, that you are bound to relieve yourselves as soon as possible from your anxiety about them, and by exercising either punishment or kindness to pre-occupy minds which a state of strained expectancy has deprived of the power of thought. Our task has been to put you in a position to take the whole question into consultation, your task is to decree what is best for yourselves and for the republic."
[8.14]The leaders of the senate applauded the way in which the consul had introduced the motion, but as the circumstances differed in different cases they thought that each case ought to be decided upon its merits, and with the view of facilitating discussion they requested the consul to put the name of each place separately. Lanuvium received the full citizenship and the restitution of her sacred things, with the proviso that the temple and grove of Juno Sospita should belong in common to the Roman people and the citizens living at Lanuvium. Aricium, Nomentum, and Pedum obtained the same political rights as Lanuvium. Tusculum retained the citizenship which it had had before, and the responsibility for the part it took in the war was removed from the State as a whole and fastened on a few individuals. The Veliternians, who had been Roman citizens from old times, were in consequence of their numerous revolts severely dealt with; their walls were thrown down, their senate deported and ordered to live on the other side of the Tiber; if any of them were caught on this side of the river, he was to be fined 1000 ases, and the man who caught him was not to release him from confinement till the money was paid. Colonists were sent on to the land they had possessed, and their numbers made Velitrae look as populous as formerly. Antium also was assigned to a fresh body of colonists, but the Antiates were permitted to enrol themselves as colonists if they chose; their warships were taken away, and they were forbidden to possess any more; they were admitted to citizenship. Tibur and Praeneste had their domains confiscated, not owing to the part which they, in common with the rest of Latium, had taken in the war, but because, jealous of the Roman power, they had joined arms with the barbarous nation of the Gauls. The rest of the Latin cities were deprived of the rights of intermarriage, free trade, and common councils with each other. Capua, as a reward for the refusal of its aristocracy to join the Latins, were allowed to enjoy the private rights of Roman citizens, as were also Fundi and Formiae, because they had always allowed a free passage through their territory. It was decided that Cumae and Suessula should enjoy the same rights as Capua. Some of the ships of Antium were taken into the Roman docks, others were burnt and their beaks (rostra) were fastened on the front of a raised gallery which was constructed at the end of the Forum, and which from this circumstance was called the Rostra.
[8.15]C. Sulpicius Longus and P. Aelius Paetus were the new consuls. The blessings of peace were now enjoyed everywhere, a peace maintained not more by the power of Rome than by the influence she had acquired through her considerate treatment of her vanquished enemies, when a war broke out between the Sidicines and the Auruncans. After their surrender had been accepted by the consul Manlius, the Auruncans had kept quiet, which gave them a stronger claim to the help of Rome. The senate decided that assistance should be afforded them, but before the consuls started, a report was brought that the Auruncans had been afraid to remain in their town and had fled with their wives and children to Suessa - now called Aurunca - which they had fortified, and that their city with its ancient walls had been destroyed by the Sidicines. The senate were angry with the consuls, through whose delay their allies had been betrayed, and ordered a Dictator to be nominated. C. Claudius Regillensis was nominated accordingly, and he named as his Master of the Horse C. Claudius Hortator. There was some difficulty about the religious sanction of the Dictator's appointment, and as the augurs pronounced that there was an irregularity in his election, both the Dictator and the Master of the Horse resigned. This year Minucia, a Vestal, incurred suspicion through an improper love of dress, and subsequently was accused of unchastity on the evidence of a slave. She had received orders from the pontiffs to take no part in the sacred rights and not to manumit any of her slaves. She was tried and found guilty, and was buried alive near the Colline Gate to the right of the high road in the Campus Sceleratus (the "accursed field"), which, I believe, derives its name from this incident. In this year also Q. Publilius Philo was elected as the first plebeian praetor against the opposition of the consul Sulpicius; the senate, after failing to keep the highest posts in their own hands, showed less interest in retaining the praetorship.
[8.16]The consuls for the following year were L. Papirius Crassus and Caeso Duillius. There was war with the Ausonians; the fact that it was against a new enemy rather than a formidable one made it noticeable. This people inhabited the city of Cales, and had joined arms with their neighbours, the Sidicines. The combined army of the two cities was routed in a quite insignificant engagement; the proximity of their cities made them all the sooner seek a safety in flight which they did not find in fighting. The senate were none the less anxious about the war, in view of the fact that the Sidicines had so frequently either taken the aggressive themselves or assisted others to do so, or had been the cause of hostilities. They did their utmost, therefore, to secure the election of M. Valerius Corvus, the greatest commander of his day, as consul for the fourth time. M. Atilius Regulus was assigned to him as his colleague. To avoid any chance of mistake, the consuls requested that this war might be assigned to Corvus without deciding it by lot. After taking over the victorious army from the previous consuls, he marched to Cales, where the war had originated. The enemy were dispirited through the remembrance of the former conflict, and he routed them at the very first attack. He then advanced to an assault upon their walls. Such was the eagerness of the soldiers that they were anxious to bring up the scaling ladders and mount the walls forthwith, but Corvus perceived the difficulty of the task and preferred to gain his object by submitting his men to the labours of a regular siege rather than by exposing them to unnecessary risks. So he constructed an agger and brought up the vineae and the turrets close to the walls, but a fortunate circumstance rendered them unnecessary. M. Fabius, a Roman prisoner, succeeded in eluding his guards on a festival, and after breaking his chains fastened a rope from a battlement of the wall and let himself down amongst the Roman works. He induced the commander to attack the enemy while they were sleeping off the effects of their wine and feasting, and the Ausonians were captured, together with their city, with no more trouble than they had previously been routed in the open field. The booty seized was enormous, and after a garrison was placed in Cales the legions were marched back to Rome. The senate passed a resolution allowing the consul to celebrate a triumph, and in order that Atilius might have a chance of distinguishing himself, both the consuls were ordered to march against the Sidicines. Before starting they nominated, on the resolution of the senate, L. Aemilius Mamercinus as Dictator, for the purpose of conducting the elections; he named Q. Publilius Philo as his Master of the Horse. The consuls elected were T. Veturius and Spurius Postumius. Although there was still war with the Sidicines, they brought forward a proposal to send a colony to Cales in order to anticipate the wishes of the plebs by a voluntary act of kindness. The senate passed a resolution that 2500 names should be enrolled, and the three commissioners appointed to settle the colonists and allocate the holdings were Caeso Duillius, T. Quinctius, and M. Fabius.
[8.17]The new consuls, after taking over the army from their predecessors, entered the enemy's territory and carried their depredations up to the walls of their city. The Sidicines had got together an immense army, and were evidently prepared to fight desperately for their last hope; there was also a report that Samnium was being roused into hostilities. A Dictator was accordingly nominated by the consuls on the resolution of the senate - P. Cornelius Rufinus; the Master of the Horse was M. Antonius. Subsequently a religious difficulty arose through an informality in their nomination, and they resigned their posts. In consequence of a pestilence which followed, it seemed as though all the auspices were tainted by that informality, and matters reverted to an interregnum. There were five interreges and under the last one, M. Valerius Corvus, the consuls elected were C. Cornelius (for the second time) and Cn. Domitius. Matters were now quiet, but a rumour of a Gaulish war created as much alarm as an actual invasion, and it was decided that a Dictator should be appointed. M. Papirius Crassus was nominated, his Master of the Horse being P. Valerius Publicola. Whilst they were raising a stronger levy than was usual in wars near at hand, the reconnoitring parties that had been sent out reported that all was quiet amongst the Gauls. For the last two years there had been suspicions of a movement in Samnium in favour of a change of policy, and as a measure of precaution the Roman army was not withdrawn from the Sidicine territory. The landing of Alexander of Epirus near Paestum led the Samnites to make common cause with the Lucanians, but their united forces were defeated by turn in a pitched battle. He then established friendly relations with Rome, but it is very doubtful how far he would have maintained them had his other enterprises been equally successful. In this year a census was taken, the censors being Q. Publilius Philo and Sp. Postumius. The new citizens were assessed and formed into two additional tribes, the Maecian and the Scaptian. L. Papirius, the praetor, secured the passage of a law by which the rights of citizenship without the franchise were conferred on the inhabitants of Acerrae. These were the military and civil transactions for the year.
[8.18]M. Claudius Marcellus and T. Valerius were the new consuls. I find in the annals Flaccus and Potitus variously given as the consul's cognomen, but the question is of small importance. This year gained an evil notoriety, either through the unhealthy weather or through human guilt. I would gladly believe - and the authorities are not unanimous on the point - that it is a false story which states that those whose deaths made the year notorious for pestilence were really carried off by poison. I shall, however, relate the matter as it has been handed down to avoid any appearance of impugning the credit of our authorities. The foremost men in the State were being attacked by the same malady, and in almost every case with the same fatal results. A maid-servant went to Q. Fabius Maximus, one of the curule aediles, and promised to reveal the cause of the public mischief if the government would guarantee her against any danger in which her discovery might involve her. Fabius at once brought the matter to the notice of the consuls and they referred it to the senate, who authorised the promise of immunity to be given. She then disclosed the fact that the State was suffering through the crimes of certain women; those poisons were concocted by Roman matrons, and if they would follow her at once she promised that they should catch the poisoners in the act. They followed their informant and actually found some women compounding poisonous drugs and some poisons already made up. These latter were brought into the Forum, and as many as twenty matrons, at whose houses they had been seized, were brought up by the magistrates' officers. Two of them, Cornelia and Sergia, both members of patrician houses, contended that the drugs were medicinal preparations. The maid-servant, when confronted with them, told them to drink some that they might prove she had given false evidence. They were allowed time to consult as to what they would do, and the bystanders were ordered to retire that they might take counsel with the other matrons. They all consented to drink the drugs, and after doing so fell victims to their own criminal designs. Their attendants were instantly arrested, and denounced a large number of matrons as being guilty of the same offence, out of whom a hundred and seventy were found guilty. Up to that time there had never been a charge of poison investigated in Rome. The whole incident was regarded as a portent, and thought to be an act of madness rather than deliberate wickedness. In consequence of the universal alarm created, it was decided to follow the precedent recorded in the annals. During the secessions of the plebs in the old days a nail had been driven in by the Dictator, and by this act of expiation men's minds, disordered by civil strife, had been restored to sanity. A resolution was passed accordingly, that a Dictator should be appointed to drive in the nail. Cnaeus Quinctilius was appointed and named L. Valerius as his Master of the Horse. After the nail was driven in they resigned office.
[8.19]L. Papirius Crassus and L. Plautius Venox were thereupon elected consuls, the former for the second time. At the beginning of the year deputations came from Fabrateria and Luca, places belonging to the Volscians, with a request to be received into the protection of Rome, whose overlordship they would faithfully and loyally acknowledge if they would undertake to defend them from the Samnites. The senate acceded to their request, and sent to warn the Samnites against violating the territory of these two cities. The Samnites took the warning, not because they were anxious for peace, but because they were not yet ready for war. This year a war commenced with Privernum and its ally, Fundi; their commander was a Fundan, Vitrubius Baccus, a man of great distinction not only in his own city but even in Rome, where he had a house on the Palatine, which was afterwards destroyed and the site sold, the place being thenceforth known as the Bacci Prata. Whilst he was spreading devastation far and wide through the districts of Setia, Norba, and Cora, L. Papirius advanced against him and took up a position not far from his camp. Vitrubius had neither the prudence to remain within his lines in presence of an enemy stronger than himself nor the courage to fight at a distance from his camp. He gave battle whilst his men were hardly clear of their camp, and thinking more of retreating back to it than of the battle or the enemy, was with very little effort put to a decisive defeat. Owing to the proximity of the camp retreat was easy, and he had not much difficulty in protecting his men from serious loss; hardly any were killed in the actual battle, and only a few in the rear of the crowded fugitives as they were rushing into their camp. As soon as it grew dark they abandoned it for Privernum, trusting to stone walls for protection rather than to the rampart round their camp.
The other consul, Plautius, after ravaging the fields in all directions and carrying off the plunder, led his army into the territory of Fundi. As he was crossing their frontier the senate of Fundi met him and explained that they had not come to intercede for Vitrubius and those who had belonged to his party, but for the people of Fundi. They pointed out that Vitrubius himself had cleared them from all responsibility by seeking shelter in Privernum and not in Fundi, though it was his city. At Privernum, therefore, the enemies of Rome were to be looked for and punished, for they had been faithless both to Fundi and Rome. The men of Fundi wished for peace; their sympathies were wholly Roman, and they retained a grateful sense of the boon they received when the rights of citizenship were conferred upon them. They besought the consul to abstain from making war upon an unoffending people; their lands, their city, their own persons and the persons of their wives and children were and would continue to be at the disposal of Rome. The consul commended them for their loyalty and sent despatches to Rome to inform the senate that the Fundans were firm in their allegiance, after which he marched to Privernum. Claudius gives a different account. According to him the consul first proceeded against the ringleaders of the revolt, of whom three hundred and fifty were sent in chains to Rome. He adds that the senate refused to receive the surrender because they considered that the Fundans were anxious to escape with the punishment of poor and obscure individuals.
[8.20]Whilst Privernum was invested by two consular armies, one of the consuls was recalled home to conduct the elections. It was in this year that the carceres were erected in the Circus Maximus. The trouble of the war with Privernum was not yet over when a most alarming report of a sudden movement amongst the Gauls reached the senate. Such reports were not often treated lightly. The new consuls, L. Aemilius Mamercinus and C Plautius, were immediately ordered to arrange their respective commands on the very day they assumed office, namely July 1. The Gaulish war fell to Mamercinus, and he allowed none of those who were called up for service to claim exemption. It is even asserted that the mob of mechanics and artizans, a class utterly unfit for warfare, were called out. An immense army was concentrated at Veii to check the advance of the Gauls. It was thought better not to march any further in case the enemy took some other route to the City. After a thorough reconnaissance had been made, it was ascertained after a few days that all was quiet as far as the Gauls were concerned, and the whole force was thereupon marched to Privernum. From this point there is a twofold story. Some state that the city was stormed and Vitrubius taken alive; other authorities aver that before the final assault the townsmen came out with a caduceus and surrendered to the consul, whilst Vitrubius was given up by his own men. The senate, when consulted as to the fate of Vitrubius and the Privernates, instructed the consul to demolish the walls of Privernum and station a strong garrison there, and then to celebrate his triumph. Vitrubius was to be kept in prison until the consul returned and then to be scourged and beheaded; his house on the Palatine was to be razed and his goods devoted to Semo Sancus. The money realised by their sale was melted down into brazen orbs which were deposited in the chapel of Sancus opposite the temple of Quirinus. With regard to the senate of Privernum, it was decreed that every senator who had remained in that city after its revolt from Rome should be deported beyond the Tiber on the same conditions as those of Velitrae. After his triumph, when Vitrubius and his accomplices had been put to death, the consul thought that as the senate was satisfied with the punishment of the guilty, he might safely refer to the matter of the Privernates. He addressed the House in the following terms: "Since the authors of the revolt, senators, have been visited by the immortal gods and by you with the punishment they deserved, what is your pleasure with regard to the innocent population? Although it is my duty to ask for opinions rather than to give them, I should like to say that in view of the fact that the Privernates are neighbours of the Samnites, with whom peaceful relations are now upon a most uncertain footing, I am anxious that as few grounds of complaint as possible should exist between us and them."
The question was not an easy one to settle, for the senators, were governed largely by their temperaments and some advised a harsh, others a gentler course. The general divergence of opinion was widened by one of the Privernate envoys who was thinking more of the state of things in which he had been born than of his present plight. One of the senators who was advocating sterner measures asked him what punishment he thought his countrymen deserved. He replied: "The punishment which those deserve who assert their liberty." The consul saw that this spirited reply only exasperated those who were already adverse to the cause of the Privernates, and he tried to get a softer answer by a more considerate question. "Well," he said, "if we spare you now, what sort of a peace may we hope to have with you for the time to come?" "A real and lasting one," was the reply, "if its terms be good, but if they are bad, one that will soon be broken." On hearing this, some of the senators exclaimed that he was using open threats, and that it was by such language that even those states which had been pacified were incited to renew hostilities. The better part of the senate, however, put a more favourable construction on his reply, and declared that it was an utterance worthy of a man and a man who loved liberty. Was it, they asked, to be supposed that any people or for that matter, any individual would remain longer than he could help under conditions which made him discontented? Peace would only be faithfully kept where those who accepted it did so voluntarily; they could not hope that it would be faithfully kept where they sought to reduce men to servitude. The senate was brought to adopt this view mainly by the consul himself who kept repeating to the consulars - the men who had to state their opinions first - in a tone loud enough for many to hear, "Men whose first and last thought is their liberty deserve to become Romans." Thus they gained their cause in the senate, and the proposal to confer full citizenship on the Privernates was submitted to the people.
[8.22]The new consuls were P. Plautius Proculus and P Cornelius Scapula. The year was not remarkable for anything at home or abroad beyond the fact that a colony was sent to Fregellae which was in the territory of Sidicum and had afterwards belonged to the Volscians. There was also a distribution of meat made to the people by M. Flavius on the occasion of his mother's funeral. There were many who looked upon this as the payment of a bribe to the people under the pretext of honouring his mother's memory. He had been prosecuted by the aediles on the charge of seducing a married woman, and had been acquitted, and this was considered in the light of a dole given in return for the favour shown him at the trial. It proved also to be the means of his gaining office, for at the next election he was made a tribune of the plebs in his absence and over the heads of competitors who had personally canvassed. Palaeopolis was a city not far from the present site of Neapolis. The two cities formed one community. The original inhabitants came from Cumae; Cumae traced its origin to Chalcis in Euboea. The fleet in which they had sailed from home gave them the mastery of the coastal district which they now occupy, and after landing in the islands of Aenaria and Pithecusae they ventured to transfer their settlements to the mainland. This community, relying on their own strength and on the lax observance of treaty obligations which the Samnites were showing towards the Romans, or possibly trusting to the effect of the pestilence which they had heard was now attacking the City, committed many acts of aggression against the Romans who were living in Campania and the Falernian country. In consequence of this, the consuls, L. Cornelius Lentulus and Q. Publilius Philo, sent the fetials to Palaeopolis to demand redress. On hearing that the Greeks, a people valiant in words rather than in deeds, had sent a defiant reply, the people, with the sanction of the senate, ordered war to be made on Palaeopolis. The consuls arranged their respective commands; the Greeks were left for Publilius to deal with; Cornelius, with a second army, was to check any movement on the part of the Samnites. As, however, he received intelligence that they intended to advance into Campania in anticipation of a rising there, he thought it best to form a standing camp there.
[8.23]Both consuls sent word to the senate that there were very slender hopes of the Samnites remaining at peace. Publilius informed them that 2000 troops from Nola and 4000 Samnites had been admitted into Palaeopolis, more under pressure from Nola than from any great desire for their presence on the part of the Greeks; Cornelius sent the additional information that orders for a general levy had been issued throughout Samnium, and attempts were being openly made to induce the neighbouring communities of Privernum, Fundi, and Formiae to rise. Under these circumstances it was decided to send ambassadors to the Samnites before actually commencing war. The Samnites sent an insolent reply. They accused the Romans of wanton aggression, and absolutely denied the charges made against themselves; they declared that the assistance which the Greeks had received was not furnished by their government, nor had they tampered with Fundi and Formiae, for they had no reason to distrust their own strength if it came to war. Moreover, it was impossible to disguise the deep irritation which the Samnite nation felt at the conduct of the Roman people in restoring Fregellae after they had taken it from the Volscians and destroyed it, and placing a colony on Samnite territory which the colonists called Fregellae. If this insult and injury were not removed by those responsible for it, they would themselves exert all their strength to get rid of it. The Roman ambassadors invited them to submit the questions at issue to arbitration before their common friends, but the Samnites replied: "Why should we beat about the bush? No diplomacy, no arbitration can adjust our quarrel; arms and the fortune of war can alone decide the issue. We must meet in Campania." To which the Roman replied: "Roman soldiers will march not whither the enemy summons them, but whither their commander leads them."
Publilius meantime had taken up a suitable position between Palaeopolis and Neapolis in order to prevent them from rendering each other the mutual assistance they had hitherto given. The time for the elections was close at hand, and it would have been most inexpedient for the public interest to recall Publilius, as he was ready to attack the place and in daily expectation of effecting its capture. An arrangement was accordingly made with the tribunes of the plebs to propose to the people that at the expiration of his term of office Publilius should continue to act as proconsul till the war with the Greeks was brought to a close. The same step was taken with regard to Cornelius, who had already entered Samnium, and written instructions were sent to him to nominate a Dictator to hold the elections. He nominated M. Claudius Marcellus, and Sp. Postumius was named by him Master of the Horse. The elections, however, were not held by that Dictator, doubts having been raised as to whether the proper formalities had been observed in his nomination. The augurs, when consulted, declared that they had not been duly observed. The tribunes characterised their action as dishonest and iniquitous. "How," they asked, "could they know that there was any irregularity? The consul rose at midnight to nominate the Dictator; he had made no communication to any one either officially or privately about the matter; there was no one living who could say that he had seen or heard anything which would vitiate the auspices; the augurs sitting quietly in Rome could not possibly divine what difficulty the consul may have met with in the camp. Who was there who could not see that the irregularity which the augurs had discovered lay in the fact that the Dictator was a plebeian?" These and other objections were raised by the tribunes. Matters, however, reverted to an interregnum, and owing to the repeated adjournment of the elections on one pretext after another, there were no fewer than fourteen interregna. At last L. Aemilius, the fourteenth interrex, declared C. Poetilius and L. Papirius Mugilanus duly elected. In other lists I find Cursor.
[8.24]The foundation of Alexandria in Egypt is stated to have taken place this year (327 B.C.), and also the assassination of Alexander of Epirus at the hands of a Lucanian refugee, an event which fulfilled the oracular prediction of the Dodonean Jupiter. When he was invited by the Tarentines into Italy, he received a warning to beware of the water of Acheron and the city of Pandosia; for it was there that the limits of his destiny were fixed. This made him cross over into Italy all the sooner, that he might be as far as possible from the city of Pandosia in Epirus and the river Acheron, which flows from Molossis into the Infernal Marshes and finally empties itself into the Thesprotian Gulf. But, as often happens, in trying to avoid his fate he rushed upon it. He won many victories over the nationalities of Southern Italy, inflicting numerous defeats upon the legions of Bruttium and Lucania, capturing the city of Heraclea, a colony of settlers from Tarentum, taking Potentia from the Lucanians, Sipontum from the Apulians, Consentia and Terina from the Bruttii and other cities belonging to the Messapians and Lucanians. He sent three hundred noble families to Epirus to be detained there as hostages. The circumstances under which he met his death were these. He had taken up a permanent position on three hills not far from the city of Pandosia which is close to the frontiers of the Lucanians and Bruttii. From this point he made incursions into every part of the enemy's territory, and on these expeditions he had as a bodyguard some two hundred Lucanian refugees, in whose fidelity he placed confidence, but who, like most of their countrymen, were given to changing their minds as their fortunes changed. Continuous rains had inundated the whole country and prevented the three divisions of the army from mutually supporting each other, the level ground between the hills being impassable. While they were in this condition two out of the three divisions were suddenly attacked in the king's absence and overwhelmed. After annihilating them the enemy invested the third hill, where the king was present in person. The Lucanian refugees managed to communicate with their countrymen, and promised, if a safe return were guaranteed to them, to place the king in their hands alive or dead. Alexander, with a picked body of troops, cut his way, with splendid courage, through the enemy, and meeting the Lucanian general slew him after a hand to hand fight. Then getting together those of his men who were scattered in flight, he rode towards the ruins of a bridge which had been carried away by the floods and came to a river. Whilst his men were fording it with very uncertain footing, a soldier, almost spent by his exertions and his fears, cursed the river for its unlucky name, and said, "Rightly art thou called Acheros!" When these words fell on his ear the king at once recalled to mind the oracular warning, and stopped, doubtful whether to cross or not. Sotimus, one of his personal attendants, asked him why he hesitated at such a critical moment and drew his attention to the suspicious movements of the Lucanian refugees who were evidently meditating treachery. The king looked back and saw them coming on in a compact body; he at once drew his sword and spurred his horse through the middle of the river. He had already reached the shallow water on the other side when one of the refugees some distance away transfixed him with a javelin. He fell from his horse, and his lifeless body with the weapon sticking in it was carried down by the current to that part of the bank where the enemy were stationed. There it was horribly mutilated. After cutting it through the middle they sent one half to Consentia and kept the other to make sport of. Whilst they were pelting it at a distance with darts and stones a solitary woman ventured among the rabble who were showing such incredible brutality and implored them to desist. She told them amid her tears that her husband and children were held prisoners by the enemy and she hoped to ransom them with the king's body however much it might have been disfigured. This put an end to the outrages. What was left of the limbs was cremated at Consentia by the reverential care of this one woman, and the bones were sent back to Metapontum; from there they were carried to Cleopatra, the king's wife, and Olympias, his sister, the latter of whom was the mother, the former the sister of Alexander the Great. I thought it well to give this brief account of the tragic end of Alexander of Epirus, for although Fortune kept him from hostilities with Rome, the wars he waged in Italy entitle him to a place in this history.
[8.25]A laetisternium took place this year (326 B.C.), the fifth since the foundation of the City, and the same deities were propitiated in this as in the former one. The new consuls, acting on the orders of the people, sent heralds to deliver a formal declaration of war to the Samnites, and made all their preparations on a much greater scale for this war than for the one against the Greeks. New and unexpected succours were forthcoming, for the Lucanians and Apulians, with whom Rome had up to that time established no relations, came forward with offers to make an alliance and promised armed assistance; a friendly alliance was formed with them. Meantime the operations in Samnium were attended with success, the towns of Allifae, Callifae, and Rufrium passed into the hands of the Romans, and ever since the consuls had entered the country the rest of the territory was ravaged far and wide. Whilst this war was commencing thus favourably, the other war against the Greeks was approaching its close. Not only were the two towns Palaeopolis and Neapolis cut off from all communication with each other by the enemy's lines, but the townsfolk within the walls were practically prisoners to their own defenders, and were suffering more from them than from anything which the outside enemy could do; their wives and children were exposed to such extreme indignities as are only inflicted when cities are stormed and sacked. A report reached them that succours were coming from Tarentum and from the Samnites. They considered that they had more Samnites than they wanted already within their walls, but the force from Tarentum composed of Greeks, they were prepared to welcome, being Greeks themselves, and through their means they hoped to resist the Samnites and the Nolans no less than the Romans. At last, surrender to the Romans seemed the less of the two evils. Charilaus and Nymphius, the leading men in the city, arranged with one another the respective parts they were to play. One was to desert to the Roman commander, the other to remain in the city and prepare it for the successful execution of their plot. Charilaus was the one who went to Publilius Philo. After expressing the hope that all might turn out for the good and happiness of Palaeopolis and Rome, he went on to say that he had decided to deliver up the fortifications. Whether in doing this he should be found to have preserved his country or betrayed it depended upon the Roman sense of honour. For himself he made no terms and asked for no conditions, but for his countrymen he begged rather than stipulated that if his design succeeded the people of Rome should take into consideration the eagerness with which they sought to renew the old friendly relations, and the risk attending their action rather than their folly and recklessness in breaking the old ties of duty. The Roman commander gave his approval to the proposed scheme and furnished him with 3000 men to seize that part of the city which was in the occupation of the Samnites. L. Quinctius, a military tribune, was in command of this force.
[8.26]Nymphius at the same time approached the Samnite praetor and persuaded him, now that the whole of the Roman fighting force was either round Palaeopolis or engaged in Samnium, to allow him to sail round with the fleet to the Roman seaboard and ravage not only the coastal districts but even the country close to the city. But to ensure secrecy he pointed out that it would be necessary to start by night, and that the ships should be at once launched. To expedite matters the whole of the Samnite troops, with the exception of those who were mounting guard in the city, were sent down to the shore. Here they were so crowded as to impede one another's movements and the confusion was heightened by the darkness and the contradictory orders which Nymphius was giving in order to gain time. Meantime Charilaus had been admitted by his confederates into the city. When the Romans had completely occupied the highest parts of the city, he ordered them to raise a shout, on which the Greeks, acting on the instructions of their leaders kept quiet. The Nolans escaped at the other end of the city and took the road to Nola. The Samnites, shut out as they were from the city, had less difficulty in getting away, but when once out of danger they found themselves in a much more sorry flight. They had no arms, there was nothing they possessed which was not left behind with the enemy; they returned home stripped and destitute, an object of derision not only to foreigners but even to their own countrymen. I am quite aware that there is another view of this transaction, according to which it was the Samnites who surrendered, but in the above account I have followed the authorities whom I consider most worthy of credit. Neapolis became subsequently the chief seat of the Greek population, and the fact of a treaty being made with that city renders it all the more probable that the re-establishment of friendly relations was due to them. As it was generally believed that the enemy had been forced by the siege to come to terms, a triumph was decreed to Publilius. Two circumstances happened in connection with his consulship which had never happened before - a prolongation of command and a triumph after he had laid down his command.
[8.27]This was followed almost immediately by a war with the Greeks on the eastern coast. The Tarentines had encouraged the people of Palaeopolis through their long resistance with vain hopes of succour, and when they heard that the Romans had got possession of the place they severely blamed the Palaeopolitans for leaving them in the lurch, as though they were quite guiltless of having behaved in a similar manner themselves. They were furious with the Romans, especially after they found that the Lucanians and Apulians had established friendly relations with them - for it was in this year that the alliance had been formed - and they realised that they would be the next to be involved. They saw that it must soon become a question of either fighting Rome or submitting to her, and that their whole future in fact depended upon the result of the Samnite war. That nation stood out alone, and even their strength was inadequate for the struggle, now that the Lucanians had abandoned them. They believed, however, that these could still be brought back and induced to desert the Roman alliance, if sufficient skill were shown in sowing the seeds of discord between them. These arguments found general acceptance among a people who were fickle and restless, and some young Lucanians, distinguished for their unscrupulousness rather than for their sense of honour, were bribed to make themselves tools of the war party. After scourging one another with rods they presented themselves with their backs exposed, in the popular Assembly, and loudly complained that after they had ventured inside the Roman camp, they had been scourged by the consul's orders and were within an ace of losing their heads. The affair had an ugly look, and the visible evidence removed any suspicion of fraud. The Assembly became greatly excited, and amidst loud shouts insisted upon the magistrates convening the senate. When it assembled the senators were surrounded by a crowd of spectators who clamoured for war with Rome, whilst others went off into the country to rouse the peasantry to arms. Even the coolest heads were carried away by the tumult of popular feeling; a decree was passed that a fresh alliance should be made with the Samnites, and negotiations were opened with them accordingly. The Samnites did not feel much confidence in this sudden and apparently groundless change of policy, and the Lucanians were obliged to give hostages and allow the Samnites to garrison their fortified places. Blinded by the imposition that had been practiced on them and by their furious resentment at it, they made no difficulty about accepting these terms. Shortly afterwards, when the authors of the false charges had removed to Tarentum, they began to see how they had been hoodwinked, but it was then too late, events were no longer in their power, and nothing remained but unavailing repentance.
[8.28]This year (326 B.C.) was marked by the dawn, as it were, of a new era of liberty for the plebs; creditors were no longer allowed to attach the persons of their debtors. This change in the law was brought about by a signal instance of lust and cruelty upon the part of a moneylender. L. Papirius was the man in question. C. Publilius had pledged his person to him for a debt which his father had contracted. The youth and beauty of the debtor which ought to have called forth feelings of compassion only acted as incentives to lust and insult. Finding that his infamous proposals only filled the youth with horror and loathing, the man reminded him that he was absolutely in his power and sought to terrify him by threats. As these failed to crush the boy's noble instincts, he ordered him to be stripped and beaten. Mangled and bleeding the boy rushed into the street and loudly complained of the usurer's lust and brutality. A vast crowd gathered, and on learning what had happened became furious at the outrage offered to one of such tender years, reminding them as it did of the conditions under which they and their children were living. They ran into the Forum and from there in a compact body to the Senate-house. In face of this sudden outbreak the consuls felt it necessary to convene a meeting of the senate at once, and as the members entered the House the crowd exhibited the lacerated back of the youth and flung themselves at the feet of the senators as they passed in one by one. The strongest bond and support of credit was there and then overthrown through the mad excesses of one individual. The consuls were instructed by the senate to lay before the people a proposal "that no man be kept in irons or in the stocks, except such as have been guilty of some crime, and then only till they have worked out their sentence; and, further, that the goods and not the person of the debtor shall be the security for the debt." So the nexi were released, and it was forbidden for any to become nexi in the future.
[8.29]The Samnite war, the sudden dejection of the Lucanians, and the fact that the Tarentines had been the instigators were quite sufficient in themselves to cause the senators anxiety. Fresh trouble, however, arose this year through the action of the Vestinians, who made common cause with the Samnites. The matter had been a good deal discussed, though it had not yet occupied the attention of the government. In the following year, however, the new consuls, L. Furius Camillus and Junius Brutus Scaeva, made it the very first question to bring before the senate. Though the subject was no new one, yet it was felt to be so serious that the senators shrank from either taking it up or refusing to deal with it. They were afraid that if they left that nation unpunished, the neighbouring states might be encouraged to make a similar display of wanton arrogance, while to punish them by force of arms might lead others to fear similar treatment and arouse feelings of resentment. In fact, the whole of these nations - the Marsi, the Paeligni, and the Marrucini - were quite as warlike as the Samnites, and in case the Vestinians were attacked would have to be reckoned with as enemies. The victory, however, rested with that party in the senate who seemed at the time to possess more daring than prudence, but the result showed that Fortune favours the bold. The people, with the sanction of the senate, resolved on war with the Vestinians. The conduct of that war fell by lot to Brutus, the war in Samnium to Camillus. Armies were marched into both countries, and by carefully watching the frontiers the enemy were prevented from effecting a junction. The consul who had the heavier task, L. Furius, was overtaken by a serious illness and was obliged to resign his command. He was ordered to nominate a Dictator to carry on the campaign, and he nominated L. Papirius Cursor, the foremost soldier of his day, Q. Fabius Maximus Rullianus being appointed Master of the Horse. The two distinguished themselves by their conduct in the field, but they made themselves still more famous by the conflict which broke out between them, and which almost led to fatal consequences. The other consul, Brutus, carried on an active campaign amongst the Vestinians without meeting with a single reverse. He ravaged the fields and burnt the farm buildings and crops of enemy, and at last drove him reluctantly into action. A pitched battle was fought, and he inflicted such a defeat on the Vestinians, though with heavy loss on his own side also, that they fled to their camp, but not feeling sufficiently protected by fosse and rampart they dispersed in scattered parties to their towns, trusting to their strong positions and stone walls for their defence. Brutus now commenced an attack upon their towns. The first to be taken was Cutina, which he carried by escalade, after a hot assault by his men, who were eager to avenge the heavy losses they had sustained in the previous battle. This was followed by the capture of Cingilia. He gave the spoil of both cities to his troops as a reward for their having surmounted the walls and gates of the enemy.
[8.30]The advance into Samnium was made under doubtful auspices. This circumstance did not portend the result of the campaign, for that was quite favourable, but it did forshadow the insane passion which the commanders displayed. Papirius was warned by the pullarius that it would be necessary to take the auspices afresh. On his departure for Rome for this purpose, he strictly charged the Master of the Horse to keep within his lines and not to engage the enemy. After he had gone Q. Fabius learnt from his scouts that the enemy were showing as much carelessness as if there were not a single Roman in Samnium. Whether it was that his youthful temper resented everything being dependent on the Dictator, or whether he was tempted by the chance offered him of a brilliant success, at any rate, after making the necessary preparations and dispositions he advanced as far as Inbrinium - for so is the district called - and fought a battle with the Samnites. Such was the fortune of the fight that had the Dictator himself been present he could have done nothing to make the success more complete. The general did not disappoint his men, nor did the men disappoint their general. The cavalry made repeated charges but failed to break through the massed force opposed to them, and acting on the advice of L. Cominius, a military tribune, they removed the bits from their horses and spurred them on so furiously that nothing could withstand them. Riding down men and armour they spread carnage far and wide. The infantry followed them and completed the disorder of the enemy. It is said that they lost 20,000 men that day. Some authorities whom I have consulted state that there were two battles fought in the Dictator's absence, and each was a brilliant success. In the oldest writers, however, only one battle is mentioned, and some annalists omit the incident altogether.
In consequence of the vast number slain, a large amount of spoil in the shape of armour and weapons was picked up on the battle-field, and the Master of the Horse had this collected into a huge heap and burnt. His object may have been to discharge a vow to some deity. But if we are to trust the authority of Fabius, he did this to prevent the Dictator from reaping the fruits of his glory, or carrying the spoils in his triumph and afterwards placing his name upon them. The fact also of his sending the despatches announcing his victory to the senate and not to the Dictator would seem to show that he was by no means anxious to allow him any share in the credit of it. At all events the Dictator took it in that light, and whilst everybody else was jubilant at the victory which had been won, he wore an expression of gloom and wrath. He abruptly dismissed the senate and hurried from the Senate-house, repeatedly exclaiming that the authority and dignity of the Dictator would be as completely overthrown by the Master of the Horse as the Samnite legions had been if this contempt of his orders were to remain unpunished. In this angry and menacing mood, he started with all possible speed for the camp. He was unable, however, to reach it before news arrived of his approach, for messengers had started from the City in advance of him, bringing word that the Dictator was coming bent on vengeance, and almost every other word he uttered was in praise of T. Manlius.
[8.31]Fabius immediately summoned his troops to assembly, and appealed to them to show the same courage with which they had defended the republic from a brave and determined foe in protecting from the unrestrained ferocity of the Dictator the man under whose auspices and generalship they had been victorious. He was coming, maddened by jealousy, exasperated at another man's merits and good fortune, furious because the republic had triumphed in his absence. If it were in his power to change the fortune of the day, he would rather that victory rested with the Samnites than with the Romans. He kept talking about the contempt of orders as though the reason why he forbade all fighting were not precisely the same as that which makes him vexed now that we have fought. Then, prompted by jealousy, he wanted to suppress the merits of others and deprive of their arms men who were most eager to use them, so as to prevent their being employed in his absence; now he is exasperated and furious because the soldiers were not crippled or defenceless though L. Papirius was not with them, and because Q. Fabius considered himself Master of the Horse and not the lacquey of the Dictator. What would he have done if, as often happens amid the chances of war, the battle had gone against us, seeing that now, after the enemy has been thoroughly defeated and a victory won for the republic which even under his unrivalled generalship could not have been more complete, he is actually menacing the Master of the Horse with punishment! He would, were it in his power, treat all with equal severity, not only the Master of Horse but the military tribunes, the centurions, the men of the rank and file. Jealousy, like lightning, strikes the summits, and because he cannot reach all he has selected one man as his victim whom he regards as the chief conspirator - your general. If he should succeed in crushing him and quenching the splendour of his success, he will treat this army as a victor treats the vanquished and with the same ruthlessness which he has been allowed to practice on the Master of the Horse. In defending his cause they will be defending the liberty of all. If the Dictator sees that the army is as united in guarding its victory as it was in fighting for it, and that one man's safety is the common concern of all, he will bring himself to a calmer frame of mind. His closing words were: " I entrust my fortunes and my life to your fidelity and courage." His words were greeted with universal shouts of approval. They told him not to be dismayed or depressed, no man should harm him while the legions of Rome were alive.
[8.32]Not long after this the Dictator appeared, and at once ordered the trumpet to sound the Assembly. When silence was restored an usher summoned Q. Fabius, the Master of the Horse. He advanced and stood immediately below the Dictator's tribunal. The Dictator began: "Quintus Fabius, inasmuch as the Dictator possesses supreme authority, to which the consuls who exercise the old kingly power, and the praetors who are elected under the same auspices as the consuls alike submit, I ask you whether or not you think it right and fitting that the Master of the Horse should bow to that authority? Further, I ask you whether as I was aware that I had left the City under doubtful auspices I ought to have jeopardised the safety of the republic in the face of this religious difficulty, or whether I ought to have taken the auspices afresh and so avoided any action till the pleasure of the gods was known? I should also like to know whether, if a religious impediment prevents the Dictator from acting, the Master of the Horse is at liberty to consider himself free and unhampered by such impediment? But why am I putting these questions? Surely, if I had gone away without leaving any orders, you ought to have used your judgment in interpreting my wishes and acted accordingly. Answer me this, rather: Did I forbid you to take any action in my absence? Did I forbid you to engage the enemy? In contempt of my orders, whilst the auspices were still indecisive and the sanctions of religion withheld, you dared to give battle, in defiance of all the military custom and discipline of our ancestors, in defiance of the will of the gods. Answer the questions put to you, but beware of uttering a single word about anything else. Lictor, stand by him!"
Fabius found it far from easy to reply to each question in detail, and protested against the same man being both accuser and judge in a matter of life and death. He exclaimed that it would be easier to deprive him of his life than of the glory he had won, and went on to exculpate himself and bring charges against the Dictator. Papirius in a fresh outburst of rage ordered the Master of the Horse to be stripped and the rods and axes to be got ready. Fabius appealed to the soldiers for help, and as the lictors began to tear off his clothes, he retreated behind the triarii who were now raising a tumult. Their shouts were taken up through the whole concourse, threats and entreaties were heard everywhere. Those nearest the tribunal, who could be recognised as being within view of the Dictator implored him to spare the Master of the Horse and not with him to condemn the whole army; those furthest off and the men who had closed round Fabius reviled the Dictator as unfeeling and merciless. Matters were rapidly approaching a mutiny. Even those on the tribunal did not remain quiet; the staff officers who were standing round the Dictator's chair begged him to adjourn the proceedings to the following day to allow his anger to cool and give time for quiet consideration. They urged that the youthful spirit of Fabius had been sufficiently chastened and his victory sufficiently sullied; they begged him not to push his punishment to extremities or to brand with ignominy not only a youth of exceptional merit but also his distinguished father and the whole Fabian house. When they found their arguments and entreaties alike unavailing, they asked him to look at the angry multitude in front. To add fire to men whose tempers were already inflamed and to provide the materials for a mutiny was, they said, unworthy of a man of his age and experience. If a mutiny did occur, no one would throw the blame of it upon Q. Fabius, who was only deprecating punishment; the sole responsibility would lie on the Dictator for having in his blind passion provoked the multitude to a deplorable struggle with him. And as a final argument they declared that to prevent him from supposing that they were actuated by any personal feeling in favour of Fabius, they were prepared to state on oath that they considered the infliction of punishment on Fabius under present circumstances to be detrimental to the interests of the State.
[8.33]These remonstrances only irritated the Dictator against them instead of making him more peaceably disposed towards Fabius, and he ordered them to leave the tribunal. In vain the ushers demanded silence, neither the Dictator's voice nor those of his officers could be heard owing to the noise and uproar; at last night put an end to the conflict as though it had been a battle. The Master of the Horse was ordered to appear on the following day. As, however, everybody assured him that Papirius was so upset and embittered by the resistance he had met with that he would be more furious than ever, Fabius left the camp secretly and reached Rome in the night. On the advice of his father, M. Fabius, who had been thrice consul as well as Dictator a meeting of the senate was at once summoned. Whilst his son was describing to the senators the violence and injustice of the Dictator, suddenly the noise of the lictors clearing the way in front of the Senate-house was heard and the Dictator himself appeared, having followed him up with some light cavalry as soon as he heard that he had quitted the camp. Then the contention began again, and Papirius ordered Fabius to be arrested. Though not only the leaders of the senate but the whole House sought to deprecate his wrath, he remained unmoved and persisted in his purpose. Then M. Fabius, the father, said: "Since neither the authority of the senate nor the years which I, whom you are preparing to bereave of a son have reached, nor the noble birth and personal merits of the Master of the Horse whom you yourself appointed, and entreaties such as have often mitigated the fierceness of human foes and pacified the anger of offended deities - since none of these move you - I claim the intervention of the tribunes of the plebs and appeal to the people. As you are seeking to escape from the judgment which the army has passed upon you and which the senate is passing now, I summon you before the one judge who has at all events more power and authority than your Dictatorship. I shall see whether you will submit to an appeal to which a Roman king - Tullus Hotilius - submitted." He at once left the Senate-house for the Assembly. Thither the Dictator also proceeded with a small party, whilst the Master of the Horse was accompanied by all the leaders of the senate in a body. They had both taken their places on the rostra when Papirius ordered Fabius to be removed to the space below. His father followed him and turned to Papirius with the remark, "You do well to order us to be removed to a position from which we can speak as private citizens."
For some time regular debate was out of the question, nothing was heard but mutual altercations. At last the loud and indignant tones of the elder Fabius rose above the hubbub as he expatiated on the tyranny and brutality of Papirius. He himself, he said, had been Dictator, and not a single person, not a single plebeian, whether centurion or private soldier, had ever suffered any wrong from him. But Papirius would wrest victory and triumph from a Roman commander just as he would from hostile generals. What a difference there was between the moderation shown by the men of old and this new fashion of ruthless severity! The Dictator, Quinctius Cincinnatus, rescued the consul, L. Minucius, from a blockade, and the only punishment he inflicted was to leave him as second in command of the army. L. Furius, after expressing his contempt for the age and authority of M. F. Camillus, incurred a most disgraceful defeat, but Camillus not only checked his anger for the moment and refrained from putting in his despatches to the people, or rather to the senate, anything reflecting on his colleague, but on his return to Rome, after the senate had allowed him to choose from the consular tribunes one to be associated with him in his command, he actually chose L. Furius. Why, even the people themselves, who hold in their hands the sovereign power, have never allowed their feelings to carry them beyond the imposition of a fine even where armies have been lost through the foolhardiness or ignorance of their generals. Never up to this day has a commander-in-chief been tried for his life because he was defeated. But now generals who have won victories and earned the most splendid triumphs are threatened with the rods and axes, a treatment which the laws of war forbid even to the vanquished. What, he asked, would his son have suffered if he had met with defeat, been routed and stripped of his camp? Could that man's rage and violence go beyond scourging and killing? It was owing to Q. Fabius that the State was offering up joyous and grateful thanksgivings for victory; it was on his account that the sacred fanes stood open and prayers and libations were being offered at the altars, and the smoke of sacrifice was ascending. How fitting it was that this very man should be stripped and torn with rods before the eyes of the Roman people, in sight of the Capitol and the Citadel, in sight of the gods whom he invoked in two battles nor invoked in vain! What would be the feelings of the army who had won their victories under his auspices and generalship? What grief would there be in the Roman camp, what exultation among the enemy! The old man wept bitterly as he uttered these protests and expostulations, ever and anon throwing his arms round his son and appealing for help to gods and men.
[8.34]He had on his side the support of the august and venerable senate, the sympathy of the people, the protection of the tribunes, and the remembrance of the absent army. On the other side were pleaded the unquestioned sovereign power of the Roman people and all the traditions of military discipline, the Dictator's edict which had ever been regarded as possessing divine sanction, and the example of Manlius who had sacrificed his affection for his son to the interests of the State. Brutus too, urged the Dictator, the founder of Roman freedom, had done this before in the case of his two children. Now fathers were indulgent, and aged men, easy-going in matters that do not touch themselves, were spoiling the young men, teaching them to despise authority and treating military discipline as of little importance. He declared his intention of adhering to his purpose, he would not abate a single jot of the punishment due to the man who had fought in defiance of his injunctions' while the auspices were doubtful and the religious sanction withheld. Whether the supreme authority of the Dictator was to remain unimpaired did not depend on him; he, L. Papirius, would do nothing to weaken its power. He sincerely hoped that the tribunes would not use their authority, itself inviolable, to violate by their interference the sovereignty of the Roman government, and that the people to whom the appeal had been made would not extinguish in his case especially Dictator and Dictatorship alike. "If it did, it will not be L. Papirius but the tribunes, the corrupt judgment of the people that posterity will accuse and accuse in vain. When the bond of military discipline has once been broken no soldier will obey his centurion, no centurion his military tribune, no military tribune his general, no Master of the Horse the Dictator. No one will have any reverence or respect for either men or gods, no observance will be shown to the orders of commanders or the auspices under which they acted. Without obtaining leave of absence soldiers will roam at will through friendly or hostile country; in total disregard of their military oath they will abandon their standards when and where they chose, they will refuse to assemble when ordered, they will fight regardless of day or night, whether the ground were favourable or unfavourable, whether their commander has given orders or not, keeping no formation, no order. Military service, instead of being the solemn and sacred thing it is, will resemble wild and disorderly brigandage. Expose yourselves, tribunes, to all future ages as the authors of these evils! Make yourselves personally responsible for the criminal recklessness of Q. Fabius!"
[8.35]The tribunes were dismayed and felt more anxiety now about their own position than about the man who had sought their protection. They were relieved from their heavy responsibility by the action of the people; the whole Assembly appealed to the Dictator and besought him with earnest entreaties that he would for their sakes forego inflicting punishment on the Master of the Horse. When the tribunes saw the turn matters had taken they added their entreaties also, and implored the Dictator to make allowance for human frailty and to pardon Q. Fabius for an error natural to youth, for he had already suffered punishment enough. And now the youth himself, and even his father, abandoning all further contention, fell on their knees and sought to turn aside the Dictator's anger. At last, when silence was restored, the Dictator spoke. "This, Quirites," he said, "is as it should be. Military discipline has conquered, the supreme authority of government has prevailed; it was a question whether either would survive this day's proceedings. Q. Fabius is not acquitted of guilt in having fought against his commander's orders, but though condemned as guilty he is restored as a free gift to the people of Rome, to the authority of the tribunes, who protected him not by exercising their legal powers but by their intercession. Live, Q. Fabius; happier now in the unanimous desire of your fellow-citizens to defend you than in the hour of exultation after your victory! Live, though you dared to do what even your father, had he been in the place of Papirius, could not have pardoned! As for me, you shall be restored to favour whenever you please. But to the Roman people to whom you owe your life you can make no better return than to show that you have this day learnt the lesson of submission to lawful commands in peace and in war." After announcing that he would no longer detain the Master of the Horse he left the rostra. The joyful senate, the still more joyful people, flocked round the Dictator and the Master of the Horse, and congratulated them on the result and then escorted them to their homes. It was felt that military authority had been strengthened no less by the peril in which Q. Fabius had been placed than by the terrible punishment of young Manlius. It so happened that on each occasion on which the Dictator was absent from the army, the Samnites showed increased activity. M. Valerius, however, the second in command, who was in charge of the camp, had the example of Q. Fabius before his eyes and dreaded the stern Dictator's anger more than an attack from the enemy. A foraging party were ambushed and cut to pieces, and it was commonly believed that they could have been relieved from the camp had not the commanding officer been deterred by the peremptory orders he had received. This incident still further embittered the feelings of the soldiers who were already incensed against the Dictator owing to his implacable attitude towards Fabius and then to his having pardoned him at the request of the people after having refused to do so on their intercession.
[8.36]After placing L. Papirius Crassus in command of the City and prohibiting Q. Fabius from any action in his capacity of Master of the Horse, the Dictator returned to the camp. His arrival was not viewed with much pleasure by his own men, nor did it create any alarm amongst the enemy. For the very next day, either unaware of his presence or regarding it of small importance whether he were present or absent, they marched towards the camp in order of battle. And yet so much depended upon that one man, L. Papirius, such care did he show in choosing his ground and posting his reserves, so far did he strengthen his force in every way that military skill could suggest, that if the general's tactics had been backed up by the goodwill of the troops it was considered absolutely certain that the Samnite war would that day have been brought to a close. As it was, the soldiers showed no energy; they deliberately threw the victory away that their commander's reputation might be damaged. The Samnites lost a larger proportion of killed, the Romans had more wounded. The quick eye of the general saw what prevented his success, and he realised that he must curb his temper and soften his sternness by greater affability. He went round the camp accompanied by his staff and visited the wounded, putting his head inside their tents and asking them how they were getting on, and commending them individually by name to the care of his staff officers, the military tribunes, and prefects. In adopting this course, which naturally tended to make him popular, he showed so much tact that the feelings of the men were much sooner won over to their commander now that their bodies were being properly looked after. Nothing conduced more to their recovery than the gratitude they felt for his attention. When the health of the army was completely restored he gave battle to the enemy, both he and his men feeling quite confident of victory, and he so completely defeated and routed the Samnites that this was the last occasion on which they ventured on a regular engagement with the Dictator. After this the victorious army advanced in every direction where there was any prospect of plunder, but wherever they marched they found no armed force; they were nowhere openly attacked or surprised from ambush. They showed all the greater alertness because the Dictator had issued an order that the whole of the spoil was to be given to the soldiers; the chance of private gain stimulated their warlike spirit quite as much as the consciousness that they were avenging the wrongs of their country. Cowed by these defeats, the Samnites made overtures for peace and gave the Dictator an undertaking to supply each of the soldiers with a set of garments and a year's pay. On his referring them to the senate they replied that they would follow him to Rome and trust their cause solely to his honour and rectitude. The army was thereupon withdrawn from Samnium.
[8.37]The Dictator made a triumphal entry into the City, and as he wished to lay down his office, he received instructions from the senate before doing so to conduct the consular elections. The new consuls were C. Sulpicius Longus (for the second time) and Q. Aemilius Cerretanus. The Samnites did not succeed in obtaining a permanent peace, as they could not agree on the conditions; they took back with them a truce for one year. But even this was soon broken, for when they heard that Papirius had resigned they were eager to renew hostilities. The new consuls - some authorities give Aulus instead of Aemilius for the second consul - had on their hands a fresh enemy, the Apulians, in addition to the revolt of the Samnites. Armies were despatched against both; the Samnites were allotted to Sulpicius, the Apulians to Aemilius. Some writers assert that it was not against the Apulians that the campaign was undertaken, but for the protection of their allies against the wanton aggressions of the Samnites. The circumstances of that people, however, who were hardly able to defend themselves, make it more probable that they had not attacked the Apulians but that both nations were united in hostilities against Rome. Nothing noteworthy took place; the districts of both Samnium and Apulia were laid waste, but neither in the one nor the other was the enemy met with. At Rome the citizens were one night suddenly aroused from sleep by an alarm so serious that the Capitol, the Citadel, the walls, and gates were filled with troops. The whole population was called to arms, but when it grew light neither the author nor the cause of the excitement was discovered. In this year M. Flavius, a tribune of the plebs, brought before the people a proposal to take measures against the Tusculans, "by whose counsel and assistance the peoples of Velitrae and Privernum had made war against the people of Rome." The people of Tusculum came to Rome with their wives and children in mourning garb, like men awaiting trial, and went from tribe to tribe prostrating themselves before the tribesmen. The compassion which their attitude called out went further to procure their pardon than their attempts to exculpate themselves. All the tribes, with the exception of the Pollian tribe, vetoed the proposal. That tribe voted for a proposal that all the adult males should be scourged and beheaded, and their wives and children sold into slavery. Even as late as the last generation the Tusculans retained the memory of that cruel sentence, and their resentment against its authors showed itself in the fact that the Papirian tribe (in which the Tusculans were afterwards incorporated) hardly ever voted for any candidate belonging to the Pollian tribe.
[8.38]Q. Fabius and L. Fulvius were the consuls for the following year. The war in Samnium was threatening to take a more serious turn, as it was stated that mercenary troops had been hired from the neighbouring states. The apprehensions created led to the nomination of A. Cornelius Arvina as Dictator, with M. Fabius Ambustus as Master of the Horse. These commanders carried out the enrolment with unusual strictness, and led an exceptionally fine army into Samnium. But although they were on hostile territory, they exercised as little caution in choosing the site for their camp as though the enemy had been at a great distance. Suddenly the Samnite legions advanced with such boldness that they encamped with their rampart close to the Roman outposts. The approach of night prevented them from making an immediate attack; they disclosed their intention as soon as it grew light the next morning. The Dictator saw that a battle was nearer than he expected, and he determined to abandon a position which would hamper the courage of his men. Leaving a number of watch-fires alight to deceive the enemy, he silently withdrew his troops, but owing to the proximity of the camps his movement was not unobserved. The Samnite cavalry immediately followed on his heels but refrained from actual attack till it grew lighter, nor did the infantry emerge from their camp before daybreak. As soon as they could see, the cavalry began to harass the Roman rear, and by pressing upon them where difficult ground had to be crossed, considerably delayed their advance. Meantime the infantry had come up, and now the entire force of the Samnites was pressing on the rear of the column.
As the Dictator saw that no further advance was possible without heavy loss, he ordered the ground he was holding to be measured out for a camp. But as the enemy's cavalry was gradually enveloping them, it was impossible to procure wood for the stockade or to commence their entrenchment. Finding that to go forward and to remain where he was were equally out of the question, the Dictator ordered the baggage to be removed from the column and collected and the line of battle formed. The enemy formed also into line, equally matched in courage and in strength. Their confidence was increased by their attributing the retirement of the Romans to fear and not, as was actually the case, to the disadvantageous position of their camp. This made the fight for some considerable time an even one, though the Samnites had long been unaccustomed to stand the battle-shout of the Romans. We read that actually from nine o'clock till two in the afternoon the contest was maintained so equally on both sides that the shout which was raised at the first onset was never repeated, the standards neither advanced nor retreated, in no direction was there any giving way. They fought, each man keeping his ground, pressing forward with their shields, neither looking back nor pausing for breath. Their noise and tumult never grew weaker, the fighting went on perfectly steadily, and it looked as if it would only be terminated by the complete exhaustion of the combatants or the approach of night. By this time the men were beginning to lose their strength and the sword its vigour, whilst the generals were baffled. A troop of Samnite cavalry, who had ridden some distance round the Roman rear, discovered that their baggage was lying at a distance from the combatants without any guard or protection of any kind. On learning this the whole of the cavalry rode up to it eager to secure the plunder. A messenger in hot haste reported this to the Dictator, who remarked: "All right, let them encumber themselves with spoil." Then the soldiers one after another began to exclaim that their belongings were being plundered and carried off. The Dictator sent for the Master of the Horse. "Do you see," he said, "M. Fabius, that the enemy's cavalry have left the fight? They are hampering and impeding themselves with our baggage. Attack them whilst they are scattered, as plundering parties always are; you will find very few of them in the saddle, very few with swords in their hands. Cut them down whilst they are loading their horses with spoil, with no weapons to defend themselves, and make it a bloody spoil for them! I will look after the infantry battle, the glory of the cavalry victory shall be yours."
[8.39]The cavalry force, riding in perfect order, charged the enemy whilst scattered and hampered by their plunder and filled the whole place with carnage. Incapable of either resistance or flight they were cut down amongst the packages which they had thrown away and over which their startled horses were stumbling. After almost annihilating the enemy's cavalry, M. Fabius led his cavalry by a short circuit round the main battle and attacked the Samnite infantry from behind. The fresh shouting which arose in that direction threw them into a panic, and when the Dictator saw the men in front looking round, the standards getting into confusion, and the whole line wavering, he called upon his men and encouraged them to fresh efforts; he appealed to the military tribunes and first centurions by name to join him in renewing the fight. They again raised the battle-shout and pressed forward, and wherever they advanced they saw more and more demoralisation amongst the enemy. The cavalry were now within view of those in front, and Cornelius, turning round to his maniples, indicated as well as he could by voice and hand that he recognised the standards and bucklers of his own cavalry. No sooner did they see and hear them than, forgetting the toil and travail they had endured for almost a whole day, forgetting their wounds, and as eager as though they had just emerged fresh from their camp after receiving the signal for battle, they flung themselves on the enemy. The Samnites could no longer bear up against the terrible onset of the cavalry behind them and the fierce charge of the infantry in front. A large number were killed between the two, many were scattered in flight. The infantry accounted for those who were hemmed in and stood their ground, the cavalry created slaughter among the fugitives; amongst those killed was their commander-in-chief.
This battle completely broke down the resistance; so much so that in all their councils peace was advocated. It could not, they said, be a matter of surprise that they met with no success in an unblest war, undertaken in defiance of treaty obligations, where the gods were more justly incensed against them than men. That war would have to be expiated and atoned for at a great cost. The only question was whether they should pay the penalty by sacrificing the few who were guilty or shedding the innocent blood of all. Some even went so far as to name the instigators of the war. One name, especially, was generally denounced, that of Brutulus Papius. He was an aristocrat and possessed great influence, and there was not a shadow of doubt that it was he who had brought about the breach of the recent truce. The praetors found themselves compelled to submit a decree which the council passed, ordering Brutulus Papius to be surrendered and all the prisoners and booty taken from the Romans to be sent with him to Rome, and further that the redress which the fetials had demanded in accordance with treaty-rights should be made as law and justice demanded. Brutulus escaped the ignominy and punishment which awaited him by a voluntary death, but the decree was carried out; the fetials were sent to Rome with the dead body, and all his property was surrendered with him. None of this, however, was accepted by the Romans beyond the prisoners and whatever articles amongst the spoil were identified by the owners; so far as anything else was concerned, the surrender was fruitless. The senate decreed a triumph for the Dictator.
[8.40]Some authorities state that this war was managed by the consuls and it was they who celebrated the triumph over the Samnites, and further that Fabius invaded Apulia and brought away great quantities of spoil. There is no discrepancy as to A. Cornelius having been Dictator that year, the only doubt is whether he was appointed to conduct the war, or whether, owing to the serious illness of L. Plautius, the praetor, he was appointed to give the signal for starting the chariot races, and after discharging this not very noteworthy function resigned office. It is difficult to decide which account or which authority to prefer. I believe that the true history has been falsified by funeral orations and lying inscriptions on the family busts, since each family appropriates to itself an imaginary record of noble deeds and official distinctions. It is at all events owing to this cause that so much confusion has been introduced into the records of private careers and public events. There is no writer of those times now extant who was contemporary with the events he relates and whose authority, therefore, can be depended upon.
End of Book 8
Copyright (c) 1996 by Bruce J. Butterfield.
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