Book 9: The Second Samnite War - (321 - 304 B.C.)
[9.1]The following year (321 B.C.) was rendered memorable by the disaster which befell the Romans at Caudium and the capitulation which they made there. T. Veturius Calvinus and Spurius Postumius were the consuls. The Samnites had for their captain-general that year C. Pontius, the son of Herennius, the ablest statesman they possessed, whilst the son was their foremost soldier and commander. When the envoys who had been sent with the terms of surrender returned from their fruitless mission, Pontius made the following speech in the Samnite council: "Do not suppose that this mission has been barren of results. We have gained this much by it, whatever measure of divine wrath we may have incurred by our violation of treaty obligations has now been atoned for. I am perfectly certain that all those deities whose will it was that we should be reduced to the necessity of making the restitution which was demanded under the terms of the treaty, have viewed with displeasure the haughty contempt with which the Romans have treated our concessions. What more could we have done to placate the wrath of heaven or soften the resentment of men than we have done? The property of the enemy, which we considered ours by the rights of war, we have restored; the author of the war, whom we could not surrender alive, we gave up after he had paid his debt to nature, and lest any taint of guilt should remain with us we carried his possessions to Rome. What more, Romans, do I owe to you or to the treaty or to the gods who were invoked as witnesses to the treaty? What arbitrator am I to bring forward to decide how far your wrath, how far my punishment is to go? I am willing to accept any, whether it be a nation or a private individual. But if human law leaves no rights which the weak share with the stronger, I can still fly to the gods, the avengers of intolerable tyranny, and I will pray them to turn their wrath against those for whom it is not enough to have their own restored to them and to be loaded also with what belongs to others, whose cruel rage is not satiated by the death of the guilty and the surrender of their lifeless remains together with their property, who cannot be appeased unless we give them our very blood to suck and our bowels to tear. A war is just and right, Samnites, when it is forced upon us; arms are blessed by heaven when there is no hope except in arms. Since then it is of supreme importance in human affairs what things men do under divine favour and what they do against the divine will, be well assured that, if in your former wars you were fighting against the gods even more than against men, in this war which is impending you will have the gods themselves to lead you."
[9.2]After uttering this prediction, which proved to be as true as it was reassuring, he took the field and, keeping his movements as secret as possible, fixed his camp in the neighbourhood of Caudium. From there he sent ten soldiers disguised as shepherds to Calatia, where he understood that the Roman consuls were encamped, with instructions to pasture some cattle in different directions near the Roman outposts. When they fell in with any foraging parties they were all to tell the same story, and say that the Samnite legions were in Apulia investing Luceria with their whole force and that its capture was imminent. This rumour had purposely been spread before and had already reached the ears of the Romans; the captured shepherds confirmed their belief in it, especially as their statements all tallied. There was no doubt but that the Romans would assist the Lucerians for the sake of protecting their allies and preventing the whole of Apulia from being intimidated by the Samnites into open revolt. The only matter for consideration was what route they would take. There were two roads leading to Luceria; one along the Adriatic coast through open country, the longer one of the two but so much the safer; the other and shorter one through the Caudine Forks. This is the character of the spot; there are two passes, deep, narrow, with wooded hills on each side, and a continuous chain of mountains extends from one to the other. Between them lies a watered grassy plain through the middle of which the road goes. Before you reach the plain you have to pass through the first defile and either return by the same path by which you entered or, if you go on, you must make your way out by a still narrower and more difficult pass at the other end.
The Roman column descended into this plain from the first defile with its overhanging cliffs, and marched straight through to the other pass. They found it blocked by a huge barricade of felled trees with great masses of rock piled against them. No sooner did they become aware of the enemy's stratagem than his outposts showed themselves on the heights above the pass. A hasty retreat was made, and they proceeded to retrace their steps by the way they had come when they discovered that this pass also had its own barricade and armed men on the heights above. Then without any order being given they called a halt. Their senses were dazed and stupefied and a strange numbness seized their limbs. Each gazed at his neighbour, thinking him more in possession of his senses and judgment than himself. For a long time they stood silent and motionless, then they saw the consuls' tents being set up and some of the men getting their entrenching tools ready. Though they knew that in their desperate and hopeless plight it would be ridiculous for them to fortify the ground on which they stood still, not to make matters worse by any fault of their own they set to work without waiting for orders and entrenched their camp with its rampart close to the water. While they were thus engaged the enemy showered taunts and insults upon them, and they themselves in bitter mockery jeered at their own fruitless labour. The consuls were too much depressed and unnerved even to summon a council of war, for there was no place for either counsel or help, but the staff-officers and tribunes gathered round them, and the men with their faces turned towards their tents sought from their leaders a succour which the gods themselves could hardly render them.
[9.3]Night surprised them while they were lamenting over their situation rather than consulting how to meet it. The different temperaments of the men came out; some exclaimed: "Let us break through the barricades, scale the mountain slopes, force our way through the forest, try every way where we can carry arms. Only let us get at the enemy whom we have beaten for now nearly thirty years; all places will be smooth and easy to a Roman fighting against the perfidious Samnite." Others answered: "Where are we to go? How are we to get there? Are we preparing to move the mountains from their seat? How will you get at the enemy as long as these peaks hang over us? Armed and unarmed, brave and cowardly we are all alike trapped and conquered. The enemy will not even offer us the chance of an honourable death by the sword, he will finish the war without moving from his seat." Indifferent to food, unable to sleep, they talked in this way through the night. Even the Samnites were unable to make up their minds what to do under such fortunate circumstances. It was unanimously agreed to write to Herennius, the captain-general's father, and ask his advice. He was now advanced in years and had given up all public business, civil as well as military, but though his physical powers were failing his intellect was as sound and clear as ever. He had already heard that the Roman armies were hemmed in between the two passes at the Caudine Forks, and when his son's courier asked for his advice he gave it as his opinion that the whole force ought to be at once allowed to depart uninjured. This advice was rejected and the courier was sent back to consult him again. He now advised that they should every one be put to death. On receiving these replies, contradicting each other like the ambiguous utterances of an oracle, his son's first impression was that his father's mental powers had become impaired through his physical weakness. However, he yielded to the unanimous wish and invited his father to the council of war. The old man, we are told, at once complied and was conveyed in a wagon to the camp. After taking his seat in the council, it became clear from what he said that he had not changed his mind, but he explained his reasons for the advice he gave. He believed that by taking the course he first proposed, which he considered the best, he was establishing a durable peace and friendship with a most powerful people in treating them with such exceptional kindness; by adopting the second he was postponing war for many generations, for it would take that time for Rome to recover her strength painfully and slowly after the loss of two armies. There was no third course. When his son and the other chiefs went on to ask him what would happen if a middle course were taken, and they were dismissed unhurt but under such conditions as by the rights of war are imposed on the vanquished, he replied: "That is just the policy which neither procures friends nor rids us of enemies. Once let men whom you have exasperated by ignominious treatment live and you will find out your mistake. The Romans are a nation who know not how to remain quiet under defeat. Whatever disgrace this present extremity burns into their souls will rankle there for ever, and will allow them no rest till they have made you pay for it many times over."
[9.4]Neither of these plans was approved and Herennius was carried home from the camp. In the Roman camp, after many fruitless attempts had been made to break out and they found themselves at last in a state of utter destitution, necessity compelled them to send envoys to the Samnites to ask in the first instance for fair terms of peace, and failing that to challenge them to battle. Pontius replied that all war was at an end, and since even now that they were vanquished and captured they were incapable of acknowledging their true position, he should deprive them of their arms and send them under the yoke, allowing them to retain one garment each. The other conditions would be fair to both victors and vanquished. If they evacuated Samnium and withdrew their colonists from his country, the Roman and the Samnite would henceforth live under their own laws as sovereign states united by a just and honourable treaty. On these conditions he was ready to conclude a treaty with the consuls, if they rejected any of them he forbade any further overtures to be made to him. When the result was announced, such a universal cry of distress arose, such gloom and melancholy prevailed, that they evidently could not have taken it more heavily if it had been announced to them all that they must die on the spot. Then followed a long silence. The consuls were unable to breathe a word either in favour of a capitulation so humiliating or against one so necessary. At last L. Lentulus, of all the staff-officers the most distinguished, both by his personal qualities and the offices he had held, spoke: "I have often," he said, "heard my father, consuls, say that he was the only one in the Capitol who refused to ransom the City from the Gauls with gold, for the force in the Capitol was not invested and shut in with fosse and rampart, as the Gauls were too indolent to undertake that sort of work; it was therefore quite possible for them to make a sortie involving, perhaps, heavy loss, but not certain destruction. If we had the same chance of fighting, whether on favourable or unfavourable ground, which they had of charging down upon the foe from the Capitol, in the same way as the besieged have often made sorties against their besiegers, I should not fall behind my father's spirit and courage in the advice which I should give. To die for one's country is, I admit, a glorious thing, and as concerns myself I am ready to devote myself for the people and legions of Rome or to plunge into the midst of the enemy. But it is here that I behold my country, it is on this spot that all the legions which Rome possesses are gathered, and unless they wish to rush to death for their own sakes, to save their honour, what else have they that they can save by their death. 'The dwellings of the City,' somebody may reply, ' and its walls, and that crowd of human beings who form its population.' Nay, on the contrary, all these things are not saved, they are handed over to the enemy if this army is annihilated. For who will protect them? A defenceless multitude of non-combatants, I suppose; as successfully as it defended them from the approach of the Gauls. Or will they implore the help of an army from Veii with Camillus at its head ? Here and here alone are all our hopes, all our strength. If we save these we save our country, if we give these up to death we desert and betray our country. 'Yes,' you say, 'but surrender is base and ignominious.' It is; but true affection for our country demands that we should preserve it, if need be, by our disgrace as much as by our death. However great then the indignity, we must submit to it and yield to the compulsion of necessity, a compulsion which the gods themselves cannot evade! Go, consuls, give up your arms as a ransom for that State which your ancestors ransomed with gold!
[9.5]The consuls left to confer with Pontius. When the victor began to insist upon a treaty, they told him that a treaty could not possibly be made without the orders of the people nor without the fetials and the usual ceremonial. So that the convention of Claudium did not, as is commonly believed and as even Claudius asserts, take the form of a regular treaty. It was concluded through a sponsio, i.e. by the officers giving their word of honour to observe the conditions. For what need would there have been in the case of a treaty for any pledge from the officers or for any hostages, since in concluding a treaty the imprecation is always used: "By whosesoever default it may come about that the said conditions are not observed, may Jupiter so smite that people as this swine is now struck by the fetials." The consuls, the staff-officers, the quaestors, and the military tribunes all gave their word on oath, and all their names are extant today, whereas if a regular treaty had been concluded no names but those of the two fetials would have survived. Owing to the inevitable delay in arranging a treaty, 600 equites were demanded as hostages to answer with their lives if the terms of the capitulation were not observed. Then a definite time was fixed for surrendering the hostages and sending the army, deprived of its arms, under the yoke. The return of the consuls with the terms of surrender renewed the grief and distress in the camp. So bitter was the feeling that the men had difficulty in keeping their hands off those "through whose rashness," they said, "they had been brought into that place and through whose cowardice they would have to leave it in a more shameful plight than they had come. They had had no guides who knew the neighbourhood, no scouts had been thrown out, they had fallen blindly like wild animals into a trap." There they were, looking at each other, gazing sadly at the armour and weapons which were soon to be given up, their right hands which were to be defenceless, their bodies which were to be at the mercy of their enemies. They pictured to themselves the hostile yoke, the taunts and insulting looks of the victors, their marching disarmed between the armed ranks, and then afterwards the miserable progress of an army in disgrace through the cities of their allies, their return to their country and their parents, whither their ancestors had so often returned in triumphal procession. They alone, they said, had been defeated without receiving a single wound, or using a single weapon, or fighting a single battle, they had not been allowed to draw the sword or come to grips with the enemy; courage and strength had been given them in vain. While they were uttering these indignant protests, the hour of their humiliation arrived which was to make everything more bitter for them by actual experience than they had anticipated or imagined. First of all they were ordered to lay down their arms and go outside the rampart with only one garment each. The first to be dealt with were those surrendered as hostages who were taken away for safe keeping. Next, the lictors were ordered to retire from the consuls, who were then stripped of their paludamenta. This aroused such deep commiseration amongst those who a short time ago had been cursing them and saying that they ought to be surrendered and scourged, that every man, forgetting his own plight, turned away his eyes from such an outrage upon the majesty of state as from a spectacle too horrible to behold.
[9.6]The consuls were the first to be sent, little more than half-clothed, under the yoke, then each in the order of his rank was exposed to the same disgrace, and finally, the legionaries one after another. Around them stood the enemy fully armed, reviling and jeering at them; swords were pointed at most of them, and when they offended their victors by showing their indignation and resentment too plainly some were wounded and even killed. Thus were they marched under the yoke. But what was still harder to bear was that after they had emerged from the pass under the eyes of the foe though, like men dragged up from the jaws of hell, they seemed to behold the light for the first time, the very light itself, serving only to reveal such a hideous sight as they marched along, was more gloomy than any shape of death. They could have reached Capua before nightfall, but not knowing how their allies would receive them, and kept back by a feeling of shame, they all flung themselves, destitute of everything, on the sides of the road near Capua. As soon as news of this reached the place, a proper feeling of compassion for their allies got the better of the inborn disdain of the Campanian; they immediately sent to the consuls their own insignia of office, the fasces and the lictors, and the soldiers they generously supplied with arms, horses, clothes, and provisions. As they entered Capua the senate and people came out in a body to meet them, showed them all due hospitality, and paid them all the consideration to which as individuals and as members of an allied state they were entitled. But all the courtesies and kindly looks and cheerful greetings of their allies were powerless to evoke a single word or even to make them lift up their eyes and look in the face the friends who were trying to comfort them. To such an extent did feelings of shame make their gloom and despondency all the heavier, and constrain them to shun the converse and society of men. The next day some young nobles were commissioned to escort them to the frontier. On their return they were summoned to the Senate-house, and in answer to inquiries on the part of the older senators they reported that they seemed to be much more gloomy and depressed than the day before; the column moved along so silently that they might have been dumb; the Roman mettle was cowed; they had lost their spirit with their arms; they saluted no man, nor did they return any man's salutation; not a single man had the power to open his mouth for fear of what was coming; their necks were bowed as if they were still beneath the yoke. The Samnites had won not only a glorious victory but a lasting one; they had not only captured Rome as the Gauls had done before them, but, what was a still more warlike exploit, they had captured the Roman courage and hardihood.
[9.7]While this report was being made and listened to with the greatest attention, and the name and greatness of Rome were being mourned over as though lost for ever, in the council of her faithful allies, Ofillius Calavius, the son of Ovus, addressed the senators. He was a man of high birth and with a distinguished career and now venerable for his age. He is reported to have said: "The truth is far otherwise. That stubborn silence, those eyes fixed on the ground, those ears deaf to all consolation, that shame-faced shrinking from the light, are all indications of a terrible resentment fermenting in their hearts which will break out in vengeance. Either I know nothing of the Roman character or that silence will soon call forth amongst the Samnites cries of distress and groans of anguish. The memory of the capitulation of Caudium will be much more bitter to the Samnites than to the Romans. Whenever and wherever they meet each side will be animated by its own courage and the Samnites will not find the Caudine Forks everywhere. Rome was now aware of its disaster. The first information they received was that the army was blockaded, then came the more gloomy news of the ignominious capitulation. Immediately on receiving the first intelligence of the blockade they began to levy troops, but when they heard that the army had surrendered in such a disgraceful way, the preparations for relieving them were abandoned, and without waiting for any formal order the whole City presented the aspect of public mourning. The booths round the Forum were shut up; all public business in the Forum ceased spontaneously before the proclamation closing it was made; the senators laid aside their purple striped tunics and gold rings; the gloom amongst the citizens was almost greater than that in the army. Their indignation was not confined to the generals or the officers who had made the convention, even the innocent soldiers were the objects of resentment, they said they would not admit them into the City. But this angry temper was dispelled by the arrival of the troops; their wretched appearance awoke commiseration amongst the most resentful. They did not enter the City like men returning in safety after being given up for lost, but in the guise and with the expression of prisoners. They came late in the evening and crept to their homes, where they kept themselves so dose that for some days not one of them would show himself in public or in the Forum. The consuls shut themselves up in privacy and refused to discharge any official functions with the exception of one which was wrung from them by a decree of the senate, namely, the nomination of a Dictator to conduct the elections. They nominated Q. Fabius Ambustus, with P. Aelius Paetus as Master of the Horse. Their appointment was found to be irregular, and they were replaced by M. Aemilius Papus as Dictator and L. Valerius Flaccus as Master of the Horse. Even they, however, were not allowed to conduct the elections; the people were dissatisfied with all the magistrates of that year, and so matters reverted to an interregnum. Q. Fabius Maximus and M. Valerius Corvus were successively interreges, and the latter held the consular elections. Q. Publilius Philo and L. Papirius Cursor - the latter for the second time - were returned. The choice was universally approved, for all knew there were no more brilliant generals at that day.
[9.8]They entered upon the active duties of their office on the very day of their election, for so had the senate decreed, and after disposing of the business connected with their accession to office, they proceeded at once to introduce the subject of the capitulation of Caudium. Publilius, who was the presiding consul, called upon Spurius Postumius to speak. He rose in his place with just the same expression that he had worn when passing under the yoke, and began: "Consuls, I am quite aware that I have been called upon to speak first, not because I am foremost in honour, but because I am foremost in disgrace and hold the position not of a senator but of a man on his trial who has to meet the charge not only of an unsuccessful war but also of an ignominious peace. Since, however, you have not introduced the question of our guilt or punishment, I shall not enter upon a defence which in the presence of men not unacquainted with the mutability of human fortunes would not be a very difficult one to undertake. I will state in a few words what I think about the question before us, and you will be able to judge from what I say whether it was myself or your legions that I spared when I pledged myself to the convention, however shameful or however necessary it was. This convention, however, was not made by the order of the Roman people, and therefore the Roman people are not bound by it, nor is anything due to the Samnites under its terms beyond our own persons. Let us be surrendered by the fetials, stripped and bound; let us release the people from their religious obligations if we have involved them in any, so that without infringing any law human or divine we may resume a war which will be justified by the law of nations and sanctioned by the gods. I advise, that in the meantime the consuls enrol and equip an army and lead it forth to war, but that they do not cross the hostile frontier until all our obligations under the terms of surrender have been discharged. And you, immortal gods, I pray and beseech, that as it was not your will that the consuls Sp. Postumius and T. Veturius should wage a successful war against the Samnites, you may at least deem it enough to have witnessed us sent under the yoke and compelled to submit to a shameful convention, enough to witness us surrendered, naked and in chains, to the enemy, taking upon our heads the whole weight of his anger and vengeance! May it be in accordance with your will that the legions of Rome under fresh consuls should wage war against the Samnites in the same way in which all wars were waged before we were consuls!" When he finished speaking, such admiration and pity were felt for him that they could hardly think that it was the same Sp. Postumius who had concluded such a disgraceful peace. They viewed with the utmost sadness the prospect of such a man suffering at the hands of the enemy such terrible punishment as he was sure to meet with, enraged as they would be at the rupture of the peace. The whole House expressed in terms of the highest praise their approval of his proposal. They were beginning to vote on the question when two of the tribunes of the plebs, L. Livius and Q. Maelius, entered a protest which they afterwards withdrew. They argued that the people as a whole would not be discharged from their religious obligation by this surrender unless the Samnites were placed in the same position of advantage which they held at Caudium. Further, they said they did not deserve any punishment for having saved the Roman army by undertaking to procure peace, and they urged as a final reason that as they, the tribunes, were sacrosanct and their persons inviolable they could not be surrendered to the enemy or exposed to any violence.
[9.9]To this Postumius replied: "In the meanwhile, surrender us, whom no inviolability protects and whose surrender will violate no man's conscience. Afterwards you will surrender those 'sacrosanct ' gentlemen also as soon as their year of office expires, but if you take my advice you will see that before they are surrendered they are scourged in the Forum by way of paying interest for a punishment that will have been delayed. Why, who is so ignorant of fetial law as not to see that these men are saying this, not because it represents the fact but to prevent their being surrendered? I do not deny, senators, that where the pledged words of men are held to possess a binding force only second to the sanctions of religion, then such undertakings as we have given are as sacred as formal treaties. But I do say that without the express order of the people nothing can be ratified which can bind the people. Suppose the Samnites, in the same spirit of insolent pride in which they extorted this capitulation from us, had compelled us to recite the formula for the surrender of cities, would you say, tribunes, that the Roman people was surrendered and that this City with its shrines and temples, its territory, and its waters had become the property of the Samnites? I say no more about surrender because what we are considering is the pledge we gave in the capitulation. Well now, suppose we had given a pledge that the Roman people would abandon this City, would burn it, would no longer have its own magistrates and senates and laws, but would live under the rule of kings. 'Heaven forbid!' you say. Yes, but the binding force of a capitulation is not lightened by the humiliating nature of its terms. If the people can be bound by any article, it can by all. The point which some consider important, namely whether it is a consul or a Dictator or a praetor who has given the undertaking is of no weight whatever. The Samnites themselves made this clear, for it was not enough for them that the consuls pledged themselves, they compelled the staff-officers, the quaestors, and the military tribunes to do the same.
"Now no one need say to me, 'Why did you pledge yourself in that way, seeing that a consul has no right to do so and you were not in a position to promise them a peace of which you could not guarantee the ratification, or to act on behalf of the people when they had given you no mandate to do so?' Nothing that happened at Caudium, senators, was dictated by human prudence; the gods deprived both the enemy's commanders and your own of their senses. We did not exercise sufficient caution in our various movements, they in their folly threw away a victory when they had won through our folly. They hardly felt safe on the very ground which gave them their victory, such a hurry were they in to agree to any conditions if only they could deprive of their arms men who were born to arms. If they had been in their senses, would they have had any difficulty in sending envoys to Rome whilst they were fetching an old man from his home to advise them? Was it impossible for them to enter into negotiations with the senate and with the people about securing peace and making a treaty? It is a three days' journey for lightly-equipped horsemen, and in the meantime there would have been an armistice until the envoys returned bringing either peace or the certainty of their victory. Then and then only would there have been a binding agreement, because we should have made it by order of the people. But you would not have made such an order, nor should we have given such a pledge. It was not the will of heaven that there should be any other result than this, namely, that the Samnites should be vainly deluded by a dream too delightful for their minds to grasp, that the same Fortune which had imprisoned our army should also release it, that an illusory victory should be rendered futile by a still more illusory peace, and that stipulations should be brought in, binding on none but those who actually made them. For what share have you, senators, what share has the people in this business? Who can call you to account, who can say that you have deceived him? The enemy? You have given no pledge to the enemy. Any fellow-citizen? You have not empowered any fellow-citizen to give a pledge on your behalf. You are not in any way involved with us, for you have given us no mandate; you are not answerable to the Samnites, for you have had no dealings with them. It is we who are answerable, pledged as debtors and quite able to discharge the debt in respect of what is our own, which we are prepared to pay, that is, our own persons and lives. On these let them wreak their vengeance, for these let them sharpen their swords and their rage. As for the tribunes, you ought to consider whether it is possible for them to be surrendered at once, or whether it ought to be deferred, but as for us, T. Veturius and the rest of you who are concerned, let us in the meantime offer these worthless lives of ours in discharge of our bond, and by our deaths set free the arms of Rome for action."
[9.10]Both the speech and the speaker produced a great impression on all who heard him, including the tribunes, who were so far influenced by what they had heard that they formally placed themselves at the disposal of the senate. They immediately resigned their office and were handed over to the fetials to be conducted with the rest to Caudium. After the senate had passed their resolution, it seemed as though the light of day was once more shining on the State. The name of Postumius was in all men's mouths, he was extolled to the skies, his conduct was put on a level with the self-sacrifice of P. Decius and other splendid deeds of heroism. It was through his counsel and assistance, men said, that the State had found its way out of a dishonourable and guilty peace; he was exposing himself to the rage of the enemy and all the tortures they could inflict as an expiatory victim for the Roman people. All eyes were turned to arms and war; "shall we ever be allowed," they exclaimed, "to meet the Samnites in arms?" Amidst this blaze of angry excitement and thirst for vengeance, a levy was made and nearly all re-enlisted as volunteers. Nine legions were formed out of the former troops, and the army marched to Caudium. The fetials went on in advance, and on arriving at the city gate they ordered the garment to be stripped off from those who had made the capitulation and their arms to be tied behind their backs. As the apparitor, out of respect for Postumius' rank, was binding his cords loosely, "Why do you not," he asked, "draw the cord tight that the surrender may be made in due form?" When they had entered the council chamber and reached the tribunal where Pontius was seated, the fetial addressed him thus: "Forasmuch as these men have, without being ordered thereto by the Roman people, the Quirites, given their promise and oath that a treaty shall be concluded and have thereby been guilty of high crime and misdemeanour, I do herewith make surrender to you of these men, to the end that the Roman people may be absolved from the guilt of a heinous and detestable act." As the fetial said this Postumius struck him as hard as he could with his knee, and in a loud voice declared that he was a Samnite citizen, that he had violated the law of nations in maltreating the fetial who, as herald, was inviolable, and that after this the Romans would be all the more justified in prosecuting the war.
[9.11]Pontius replied: "I shall not accept this surrender of yours nor will the Samnites regard it as valid. Why do you not, Spurius Postumius, if you believe in the existence of gods, either cancel the whole agreement or abide by what you have pledged yourself to. The Samnite people have a right to all those whom it held in its power, or in their stead it has a right to make peace with Rome. But why do I appeal to you? You are keeping your word as far as you can and rendering yourself as prisoner to your conqueror. I appeal to the Roman people. If they are dissatisfied with the convention of the Caudine Forks, let them place their legions once more between the passes which imprisoned them. Let there be no fraudulent dealing on either side, let the whole transaction be annulled, let them resume the arms which they delivered up at the capitulation, let them return to that camp of theirs, let them have everything that they had on the eve of their surrender. When that is done, then let them take a bold line and vote for war, then let the convention and the peace agreed to be repudiated. Let us carry on the war with the same fortune and on the same ground which we held before any mention was made of peace; the Roman people will not then have any occasion to blame their consuls for pledges they had no right to give, nor shall we have any reason to charge the Roman people with any breach of faith.
"Will you never be at a loss for reasons why, after defeat, you should not abide by your agreements? You gave hostages to Porsena, afterwards you stole them away. You ransomed your city from the Gauls with gold, whilst they were in the act of receiving the gold they were cut down. You made peace with us on condition of our restoring your captured legions, you are now making that peace null and void. You always cloak your dishonest dealing under some specious pretext of right and justice. Does the Roman people not approve of its legions being saved at the cost of a humiliating peace? Then let it keep its peace to itself, only let it restore to the victor its captured legions. Such action would be in accord with the dictates of honour, with the faith of treaties, with the solemn proceedings of the fetials. But that you should secure what you stipulated for, the safety of thousands of your countrymen, whilst I am not to secure the peace which I stipulated for when I released them - is this what you Aulus Cornelius and you fetials call acting according to the law of nations? "As to those men whom you make believe to surrender I neither accept them nor do I regard them as surrendered, nor do I hinder them from returning to their countrymen, who are bound by a convention, the violation of which brings down the wrath of all the gods whose majesty is being trifled with. True, Spurius Postumius has just struck the herald fetial with his knee, then wage war! Of course the gods will believe that Postumius is a Samnite citizen not a Roman, and that it is by a Samnite citizen that a Roman herald has been maltreated, and that for that reason you are justified in making war upon us. It is sad to think that you feel no shame in exposing this mockery of religion to the light of day, and that old men of consular rank should invent excuses for breaking their word which even children would think beneath them. Go, lictor, remove the bonds from the Romans, let none of them be hindered from departing where they please." Thus set free they returned to the Roman camp, their personal obligations and possibly those of the State having been discharged.
[9.12]The Samnites clearly saw that instead of the peace which they had so arrogantly dictated, a most bitter war had commenced. They not only had a foreboding of all that was coming but they almost saw it with their eyes; now when it was too late they began to view with approval the two alternatives which the elder Pontius had suggested. They saw that they had fallen between the two, and by adopting a middle course had exchanged the secure possession of victory for an insecure and doubtful peace. They realised that they had lost the chance of doing either a kindness or an injury, and would have to fight with those whom they might have got rid of for ever as enemies or secured for ever as friends. And though no battle had yet given either side the advantage, men's feelings had so changed that Postumius enjoyed a greater reputation amongst the Romans for his surrender than Pontius possessed amongst the Samnites for his bloodless victory. The Romans regarded the possibility of war as involving the certainty of victory, whilst the Samnites looked upon the renewal of hostilities by the Romans as equivalent to their own defeat. In the meantime, Satricum revolted to the Samnites. (The latter made a sudden descent on Fregellae and succeeded in occupying it in the night, assisted, there is no doubt, by the Satricans. Mutual fear kept both the Samnites and the Fregellans quiet till daylight, with the return of light the battle began. For some time the Fregellans held their ground, for they were fighting for their hearths and homes and the noncombatant population assisted them from the roofs of the houses. At length the assailants gained the advantage by adopting a ruse. A proclamation was made that all who laid down their arms should depart unhurt, and the defenders did not interfere with the crier who made it. Now that there were hopes of safety they fought with less energy and in all directions arms were thrown away. Some, however, showed more determination and made their way fully armed through the opposite gate. Their courage proved a better protection than the timid credulity of the others, for these were hemmed in by the Samnites with a ring of fire, and in spite of their cries for mercy were burnt to death. After arranging their respective commands, the consuls took the field. Papirius marched into Apulia as far as Luceria, where the equites who had been given as hostages at Caudium were interned; Publilius remained in Samnium to oppose the legions who had been at Caudium. His presence made the Samnites uncertain how to act; they could not march to Luceria for fear of exposing themselves to a rear attack, nor did they feel satisfied to remain where they were, as Luceria might in the meantime be lost. They decided that the best course would be to try their fortune and hazard a battle with Publilius.
[9.13]Accordingly they drew up their forces for action. Before engaging them Publilius thought he ought to address a few words to his men, and ordered the Assembly to be sounded. There was such an eager rush, however, to the general's tent, and such loud shouts were raised in all directions as the men clamoured to be led to battle, that none of the general's address was heard; the memory of their recent disgrace was quite enough of itself to stimulate every man to fight. They strode rapidly into battle, urging the standard-bearers to move faster, and, to avoid any delay in having to hurl their javelins, they flung them away as if at a given signal and rushed upon the enemy with naked steel. There was no time for the commander's skill to be shown in maneuvering his men or posting his reserves, it was all carried through by the enraged soldiers, who charged like madmen. The enemy were not only routed, they did not even venture to stay their flight at their camp, but went in scattered parties in the direction of Apulia. Eventually they rallied and reached Luceria in a body. The same rage and fury which had carried the Romans through the midst of the enemy hurried them on to the Samnite camp, and more carnage took place there than on the battle-field. Most of the plunder was destroyed in their excitement. The other army under Papirius had marched along the coast and reached Arpi. The whole of the country through which he passed was peaceably disposed, an attitude which was due more to the injuries inflicted by the Samnites than to any services which the Romans had rendered. For the Samnites used to live at that day in open hamlets among the mountains, and they were in the habit of making marauding incursions into the low country and the coastal districts. Living the free open-air life of mountaineers themselves they despised the less hardy cultivators of the plains who, as often happens, had developed, a character in harmony with their surroundings. If this tract of country had been on good terms with the Samnites, the Roman army would either have failed to reach Arpi or they would have been unable to obtain provisions on their route, and so would have been cut off from supplies of every kind. Even as it was, when they had advanced to Luceria both besieged and besiegers were suffering from scarcity of provisions. The Romans drew all their supplies from Arpi but in very small quantities, for, as the infantry were all employed in outpost and patrol duty and in the construction of the siege-works, the cavalry brought the corn from Arpi in their haversacks, and sometimes when they encountered the enemy they were compelled to throw these away so as to be free to fight. The besieged, on the other hand, were obtaining their provisions and reinforcements from Samnium. But the arrival of the other consul, Publilius, with his victorious army led to their being more closely invested. He left the conduct of the siege to his colleague that he might be free to intercept the enemy's convoys on all sides. When the Samnites, who were encamped before Luceria, found that there was no hope of the besieged enduring their privations any longer, they were compelled to concentrate their whole strength and offer battle to Papirius.
[9.14]Whilst both sides were making their preparations for battle, a deputation from Tarentum appeared on the scene with a peremptory demand that both the Samnites and the Romans should desist from hostilities. They threatened that whichever side stood in the way of a cessation of arms, they would assist the other side against them. After hearing the demands which the deputation advanced and apparently attaching importance to what they had said, Papirius replied that he would communicate with his colleague. He then sent for him and employed the interval in hastening the preparations for battle. After talking over the matter, about which there could be no two opinions, he displayed the signal for battle. Whilst the consuls were engaged in the various duties, religious and otherwise, which are customary before a battle, the Tarentines waited for them, expecting an answer, and Papirius informed them that the pullarius had reported that the auspices were favourable and the sacrifice most satisfactory. "You see," he added, "that we are going into action with the sanction of the gods." He then ordered the standards to be taken up, and as he marched his men on to the field he expressed his contempt for a people of such egregious vanity, that whilst quite incapable of managing their own affairs, owing to domestic strife and discord, they thought themselves justified in prescribing to others how far they must go in making peace or war. The Samnites, on the other hand, had given up all thoughts of fighting, either because they were really anxious for peace or because it was their interest to appear so, in order to secure the goodwill of the Tarentines. When they suddenly caught sight of the Romans drawn up for battle, they shouted that they should act according to the instructions of the Tarentines; they would neither go down into the field nor carry their arms outside their rampart, they would rather let advantage be taken of them and bear whatever chance might bring them than be thought to have flouted the peaceful advice of Tarentum. The consuls said that they welcomed the omen, and prayed that the enemy might remain in that mood so as not even to defend their rampart. Advancing in two divisions up to the entrenchments, they attacked them simultaneously on all sides. Some began to fill up the fosse, others tore down the abattis on the rampart and hurled the timber into the fosse. It was not their native courage only, but indignation and rage as well which goaded them on, smarting as they were from their recent disgrace. As they forced their way into the camp, they reminded one another that there were no Forks of Caudium there, none of those insuperable defiles where deceit had won an insolent victory over incaution, but Roman valour which neither rampart nor fosse could check. They slew alike those who fought and those who fled, armed and unarmed, slaves and freemen, young and old, men and beasts. Not a single living thing would have survived had not the consuls given the signal to retire, and by stern commands and threats driven the soldiers who were thirsting for blood out of the enemy's camp. As the men were highly incensed at this interruption to a vengeance which was so delightful, it was necessary to explain to them on the spot why they were prevented from carrying it further. The consuls assured them that they neither had yielded nor would yield to any man in showing their hatred of the enemy, and as they had been their leaders in the fighting so they would have been foremost in encouraging their insatiable rage and vengeance. But they had to consider the 600 equites who were being detained as hostages in Luceria, and to take care that the enemy, despairing of any quarter for themselves, did not wreak their blind rage on their captives, and destroy them before they perished themselves. The soldiers quite approved and were glad that their indiscriminate fury had been checked; they admitted that they must submit to anything rather than endanger the safety of so many youths belonging to the noblest families in Rome.
[9.15]The soldiers were dismissed to quarters, and a council of war was held to decide whether they should press on the siege of Luceria with their whole force or whether Publilius with his army should visit the Apulians and ascertain their intentions, about which there was considerable doubt. The latter was decided upon, and the consul succeeded in reducing a considerable number of their towns in one campaign, whilst others were admitted into alliance. Papirius, who had remained behind to prosecute the siege of Luceria, soon found his expectations realised, for as all the roads by which supplies could be brought in were blocked, the Samnite garrison in Luceria was so reduced by famine that they sent to the Roman consul an offer to restore the hostages, for whose recovery the war had been undertaken, if he would raise the siege. He replied that they ought to have consulted Pontius, at whose instigation they had sent the Romans under the yoke, as to what terms he thought ought to be imposed on the vanquished. As, however, they preferred that equal terms should be fixed by the enemy rather than proposed by themselves, he told the negotiators to take back word to Luceria that all the arms, baggage, and beasts of burden together with the non-combatant population were to be left behind; the soldiers he should send under the yoke and leave them one garment apiece. In doing this, he said, he was subjecting them to no novel disgrace but simply retaliating upon them one which they had themselves inflicted. They were compelled to accept these terms and 7000 men were sent under the yoke. An enormous amount of booty was found in Luceria, all the arms and standards which had been taken at Caudium, and what created the greatest joy of all - they recovered the equites, the hostages whom the Samnites had placed there for security. Hardly any victory that Rome ever won was more noteworthy for the sudden change that it wrought in the circumstances of the republic, especially if, as I find stated in some annals, Pontius, the son of Herennius, the Samnite captain-general, was sent under the yoke with the rest, to expiate the disgrace he had inflicted on the consuls. I am not, however, so much surprised that uncertainty should exist with regard to this point as I am that any doubt should be felt as to who really captured Luceria; whether, that is to say, it was Lucius Cornelius, acting as Dictator, with L. Papirius Cursor as Master of the Horse, who achieved those successes at Caudium and afterwards - at Luceria, and as the one man who avenged the stem on Roman honour celebrated what I am inclined to think was, with the exception of that of F. Camillus, the most justly earned triumph that any down to that day had enjoyed, or whether the glory of that distinction should be attributed to the consuls and especially to Papirius. There is a further mistake here owing to doubts as to whether at the next consular elections Papirius Cursor was re-elected for the third time in consequence of his success at Luceria, together with Q. Aulius Corretanus for the second time, or whether the name should really be L. Papirius Mugilanus.
[9.16]The authorities are agreed that the remainder of the war was conducted by the consuls. Aulius finished the campaign against the Frentanians in one battle. Their routed army fled to their city, and after giving hostages the consul received their surrender. The other consul was equally fortunate in his campaign against the Satricans. Though admitted to Roman citizenship they had revolted to the Samnites after the Caudine disaster and allowed them to garrison their city. But when the Roman army was close to their walls they sent an urgent request, couched in very humble terms, for peace. The consul replied that unless they handed over the Samnite garrison or put them to death they were not to go to him again. The severity of this reply created more terror amongst them than the actual presence of the Roman army. They repeatedly asked him by what means he thought that such a small and weak body as they were could attempt to use force against a strong and well-armed garrison. He told them to seek counsel from those through whose advice they had admitted the garrison in the first instance. After having with some difficulty obtained his permission to consult their senate, they returned to the city. There were two parties in the senate: the leaders of the one were the authors of the revolt from Rome, the other consisted of loyal citizens. Both, however, were equally anxious that every effort should be made to induce the consul to grant peace. As the Samnite garrison were not in the least prepared to stand a siege, they intended to evacuate the city the following night. The party who had introduced them thought it would be quite sufficient to let the consul know at what hour and by what gate they would leave; the others who had been all along opposed to their coming actually opened the gate to the consul that very night and admitted his troops into the city. The Samnites were unexpectedly attacked by a force concealed in the woods through which they were marching whilst the shouts of the Romans were resounding in all parts of the city; by this double act of treachery the Samnites were slain and Satricum captured within the space of one short hour and the consul became complete master of the situation. He ordered a strict inquiry to be made as to who were responsible for the revolt, and those who were found to be guilty were scourged and beheaded. The Satricans were deprived of their arms and a strong garrison was placed in the city.
The writers who tell us that it was under Papirius that Luceria was recovered and the Samnites sent under the yoke, go on to inform us that after the capture of Satricum he returned to Rome to celebrate his triumph. And indeed he was, undoubtedly, a man deserving of all praise for his soldierly qualities, distinguished as he was not only by intellectual force but also by his physical prowess. He was especially noted for his swiftness of foot, which gave him his cognomen; he is stated to have beaten all those of his own age in racing. Owing either to his great strength or the amount of exercise he took he had an enormous appetite. Under no commander did either horse or foot find service harder, for he himself never knew what it was to be tired. On one occasion the cavalry ventured to ask him to excuse them some of their fatigue duty in consideration of their having fought a successful action. He replied: "That you may not say I never excuse you anything, I excuse you from rubbing your horses' backs when you dismount." He was as much of a martinet to the allies of Rome as he was to his own countrymen. The commander of the Praenestine detachment had shown a lack of courage in bringing his men up from the rear into the fighting line. Papirius, walking in front of his tent, ordered him to be called up, and on his appearance told the lictor to get the axe ready. The Praenestine, on hearing this, stood paralysed with fear. "Come, lictor," said Papirius, "cut out this root; it is in the way of people as they walk." After almost frightening him to death with this threat, he dismissed him with a fine. No age has been more prolific in great and noble characters than the one in which he lived, and even in that age there was no one whose single arm did more to sustain the commonwealth. Had Alexander the Great, after subjugating Asia, turned his attention to Europe, there are many who maintain that he would have met his match in Papirius.
[9.17]Nothing can be thought to be further from my aim since I commenced this task than to digress more than is necessary from the order of the narrative or by embellishing my work with a variety of topics to afford pleasant resting-places, as it were, for my readers and mental relaxation for myself. The mention, however, of so great a king and commander induces me to lay before my readers some reflections which I have often made when I have proposed to myself the question, "What would have been the results for Rome if she had been engaged in war with Alexander? "The things which tell most in war are the numbers and courage of the troops, the ability of the commanders, and Fortune, who has such a potent influence over human affairs, especially those of war. Any one who considers these factors either separately or in combination will easily see that as the Roman empire proved invincible against other kings and nations, so it would have proved invincible against Alexander. Let us, first of all, compare the commanders on each side. I do not dispute that Alexander was an exceptional general, but his reputation is enhanced by the fact that he died while still young and before he had time to experience any change of fortune. Not to mention other kings and illustrious captains, who afford striking examples of the mutability of human affairs, I will only instance Cyrus, whom the Greeks celebrate as one of the greatest of men. What was it that exposed him to reverses and misfortunes but the length of his life, as recently in the case of Pompey the Great? Let me enumerate the Roman generals - not all out of all ages but only those with whom as consuls and Dictators Alexander would have had to fight - M. Valerius Corvus, C. Marcius Rutilus, C. Sulpicius, T. Manlius Torquatus, Q. Publilius Philo, L. Papirius Cursor, Q. Fabius Maximus, the two Decii, L. Volumnius, and Manlius Curius. Following these come those men of colossal mould who would have confronted him if he had first turned his arms against Carthage and then crossed over into Italy later in life. Every one of these men was Alexander's equal in courage and ability, and the art of war, which from the beginning of the City had been an unbroken tradition, had now grown into a science based on definite and permanent rules. It was thus that the kings conducted their wars, and after them the Junii and the Valerii, who expelled the kings, and in later succession the Fabii, the Quinctii, and the Cornelii. It was these rules that Camillus followed, and the men who would have had to fight with Alexander had seen Camillus as an old man when they were little more than boys.
Alexander no doubt did all that a soldier ought to do in battle, and that is not his least title to fame. But if Manlius Torquatus had been opposed to him in the field, would he have been inferior to him in this respect, or Valerius Corvus, both of them distinguished as soldiers before they assumed command? Would the Decii, who, after devoting themselves, rushed upon the enemy, or Papirius Cursor with his vast physical courage and strength? Would the clever generalship of one young man have succeeded in baffling the whole senate, not to mention individuals, that senate of which he, who declared that it was composed of kings, alone formed a true idea? Was there any danger of his showing more skill than any of those whom I have mentioned in choosing the site for his camp, or organising his commissariat, or guarding against surprises, or choosing the right moment for giving battle, or disposing his men in line of battle and posting his reserves to the best advantage? He would have said that it was not with Darius that he had to do, dragging after him a train of women and eunuchs, wrapped up in purple and gold, encumbered with all the trappings of state. He found him an easy prey rather than a formidable enemy and defeated him without loss, without being called to do anything more daring than to show a just contempt for the idle show of power. The aspect of Italy would have struck him as very different from the India which he traversed in drunken revelry with an intoxicated army; he would have seen in the passes of Apulia and the mountains of Lucania the traces of the recent disaster which befell his house when his uncle Alexander, King of Epirus, perished.
[9.18]I am speaking of Alexander as he was before he was submerged in the flood of success, for no man was less capable of bearing prosperity than he was. If we look at him as transformed by his new fortunes and presenting the new character, so to speak, which he had assumed after his victories, it is evident he would have come into Italy more like Darius than Alexander, and would have brought with him an army which had forgotten its native Macedonia and was rapidly becoming Persian in character. It is a disagreeable task in the case of so great a man to have to record his ostentatious love of dress; the prostrations which he demanded from all who approached his presence, and which the Macedonians must have felt to be humiliating, even had they been vanquished, how much more when they were victors; the terribly cruel punishments he inflicted; the murder of his friends at the banquet-table; the vanity which made him invent a divine pedigree for himself. What, pray, would have happened if his love of wine had become stronger and his passionate nature more violent and fiery as he grew older? I am only stating facts about which there is no dispute. Are we to regard none of these things as serious drawbacks to his merits as a commander? Or was there any danger of that happening which the most frivolous of the Greeks, who actually extol the Parthians at the expense of the Romans, are so constantly harping upon, namely, that the Roman people must have bowed before the greatness of Alexander's name - though I do not think they had even heard of him - and that not one out of all the Roman chiefs would have uttered his true sentiments about him, though men dared to attack him in Athens, the very city which had been shattered by Macedonian arms and almost well in sight of the smoking ruins of Thebes, and the speeches of his assailants are still extant to prove this?
However lofty our ideas of this man's greatness, still it is the greatness of one individual, attained in a successful career of little more than ten years. Those who extol it on the ground that though Rome has never lost a war she has lost many battles, whilst Alexander has never fought a battle unsuccessfully, are not aware that they are comparing the actions of one individual, and he a youth, with the achievements of a people who have had 800 years of war. Where more generations are reckoned on one side than years on the other, can we be surprised that in such a long space of time there have been more changes of fortune than in a period of thirteen years ? Why do you not compare the fortunes of one man with another, of one commander with another? How many Roman generals could I name who have never been unfortunate in a single battle! You may run through page after page of the lists of magistrates, both consuls and Dictators, and not find one with whose valour and fortunes the Roman people have ever for a single day had cause to be dissatisfied. And these men are more worthy of admiration than Alexander or any other king. Some retained the Dictatorship for only ten or twenty days; none held a consulship for more than a year; the levying of troops was often obstructed by the tribunes of the plebs; they were late, in consequence, in taking the field, and were often recalled before the time to conduct the elections; frequently, when they were commencing some important operation, their year of office expired; their colleagues frustrated or ruined their plans, some through recklessness, some through jealousy; they often had to succeed to the mistakes or failures of others and take over an army of raw recruits or one in a bad state of discipline. Kings are free from all hindrances; they are lords of time and circumstance, and draw all things into the sweep of their own designs. Thus, the invincible Alexander would have crossed swords with invincible captains, and would have given the same pledges to Fortune which they gave. Nay, he would have run greater risks than they, for the Macedonians had only one Alexander, who was not only liable to all sorts of accidents but deliberately exposed himself to them, whilst there were many Romans equal to Alexander in glory and in the grandeur of their deeds, and yet each of them might fulfil his destiny by his life or by his death without imperilling the existence of the State.
[9.19]It remains for us to compare the one army with the other as regards either the numbers or the quality of the troops or the strength of the allied forces. Now the census for that period gives 250,000 persons. In all the revolts of the Latin league ten legions were raised, consisting almost entirely of city troops. Often during those years four or five armies were engaged simultaneously in Etruria, in Umbria (where they had to meet the Gauls as well), in Samnium, and in Lucania. Then as regards the attitude of the various Italian tribes - the whole of Latium with the Sabines, Volscians, and Aequi, the whole of Campania, parts of Umbria and Etruria, the Picentines, the Marsi, and Paeligni, the Vestinians and Apulians, to which we should add the entire coast of the western sea, with its Greek population, stretching from Thurii to Neapolis and Cumae, and from there as far as Antium and Ostia - all these nationalities he would have found to be either strong allies of Rome or reduced to impotence by Roman arms. He would have crossed the sea with his Macedonian veterans, amounting to not more than 30,000 men and 4000 cavalry, mostly Thracian. This formed all his real strength. If he had brought over in addition Persians and Indians and other Orientals, he would have found them a hindrance rather than a help. We must remember also that the Romans had a reserve to draw upon at home, but Alexander, warring on a foreign soil, would have found his army diminished by the wastage of war, as happened afterwards to Hannibal. His men were armed with round shields and long spears, the Romans had the large shield called the scutum, a better protection for the body, and the javelin, a much more effective weapon than the spear whether for hurling or thrusting. In both armies the soldiers fought in line rank by rank, but the Macedonian phalanx lacked mobility and formed a single unit; the Roman army was more elastic, made up of numerous divisions, which could easily act separately or in combination as required. Then with regard to fatigue duty, what soldier is better able to stand hard work than the Roman?
If Alexander had been worsted in one battle the war would have been over; what army could have broken the strength of Rome, when Caudium and Cannae failed to do so? Even if things had gone well with him at first, he would often have been tempted to wish that Persians and Indians and effeminate Asiatics were his foes, and would have confessed that his former wars had been waged against women, as Alexander of Epirus is reported to have said when after receiving his mortal wound he was comparing his own fortune with that of this very youth in his Asiatic campaigns. When I remember that in the first Punic war we fought at sea for twenty-four years, I think that Alexander would hardly have lived long enough to see one war through. It is quite possible, too, that as Rome and Carthage were at that time leagued together by an old-standing treaty, the same apprehensions might have led those two powerful states to take up arms against the common foe, and Alexander would have been crushed by their combined forces. Rome has had experience of a Macedonian war, not indeed when Alexander was commanding nor when the resources of Macedon were still unimpaired, but the contests against Antiochus, Philip, and Perses were fought not only without loss but even without risk. I trust that I shall not give offence when I say that, leaving out of sight the civil wars, we have never found an enemy's cavalry or infantry too much for us, when we have fought in the open field, on ground equally favourable for both sides, still less when the ground has given us an advantage. The infantry soldier, with his heavy armour and weapons, may reasonably fear the arrows of Parthian cavalry, or passes invested by the enemy, or country where supplies cannot be brought up, but he has repulsed a thousand armies more formidable than those of Alexander and his Macedonians, and will repulse them in the future if only the domestic peace and concord which we now enjoy remains undisturbed for all the years to come.
[9.20]M. Foslius Flaccina and L. Plautius Venox were the next consuls. In this year several communities amongst the Samnites made overtures for a fresh treaty. These deputations, when admitted to an audience, prostrated themselves on the ground, and their humble attitude influenced the senate in their favour. Their prayers, however, were by no means so efficacious with the Assembly, to which they had been referred by the senate. Their request for a treaty was refused, but after they had spent several days in appealing to individual citizens, they succeeded in obtaining a two years' truce. In Apulia, too, the people of Teanum and Canusium, tired of the constant ravages which they had suffered, gave hostages and surrendered to the consul, L. Plautius. It was in this year also that prefects were first appointed for Capua and a code of laws given to that city by the praetor, L. Furius. Both these boons were granted in response to a request from the Campanians themselves as a remedy for the deplorable state of things brought about by civic discord. Two new tribes were formed, the Ufentine and the Falernian. As the power of Apulia was declining, the people of Teate came to the new consuls, C. Junius Bubulcus and Q. Aemilius Barbula, to negotiate for a treaty. They gave a formal undertaking that throughout Apulia peace would be maintained towards Rome, and the confident assurances they gave led to a treaty being granted, not, however, as between two independent states; they were to acknowledge the suzerainty of Rome. After the subjugation of Apulia - for Forentum, also a place of considerable strength, had been captured by Junius - an advance was made into Lucania, and the consul, Aemilius, surprised and captured the city of Nerulum. The order introduced into Capua by the adoption of Roman institutions had become generally known amongst the states in alliance with Rome, and the Antiates asked for the same privilege; as they were without a fixed code of laws or any regular magistrates of their own. The patrons of the colony were commissioned by the senate to draw out a system of jurisprudence. Not only the arms of Rome but her laws were spreading far and wide.
[9.21]At the termination of their year of office the consuls did not hand the legions over to their successors, Sp. Nautius. and M. Popilius, but to the Dictator, L. Aemilius. In conjunction with M. Fulvius, the Master of the Horse, he commenced an attack on Saticula, and the Samnites at once seized this opportunity to renew hostilities. The Romans were threatened by a double danger; the Samnites, after getting a large army together, had entrenched themselves not far from the Roman camp in order to relieve their blockaded allies, whilst the Saticulans suddenly flung their gates open and made a tumultuous attack on the Roman outposts. The two bodies of combatants, each relying more on the help of the other than on its own strength, united in a regular attack on the Roman camp. Though both sides of the camp were attacked, the Dictator kept his men free from panic, owing to his having selected a position which could not easily be turned, and also because his men presented two fronts. He directed his efforts mainly against those who had made the sortie, and drove them back, without much trouble, behind their walls. Then he turned his whole strength against the Samnites. Here the fighting was more sustained and the victory was longer in coming, but when it did come it was decisive. The Samnites were driven in disorder to their camp, and after extinguishing all the camp fires they departed silently in the night, having abandoned all hope of saving Saticula. By way of retaliation they invested Plistica, a city in alliance with Rome.
[9.22]The year having expired, the war was thenceforward carried on by the Dictator, Q. Fabius, whilst the new consuls, like their predecessors, remained in Rome. Fabius marched with reinforcements to Saticula to take over the army from Aemilius. The Samnites did not remain before Plistica; they had called up fresh troops from home, and trusting to their numbers they fixed their camp on the same ground as in the previous year and endeavoured to distract the Romans from their siege operations by a series of harassing attacks. This made the Dictator all the more determined to press the siege, as he considered that the reduction of the place would largely affect the character of the war; he treated the Samnites with comparative indifference, and merely strengthened the pickets on that side of the camp to meet any attack that might be made. This emboldened the Samnites; they rode up to the rampart day after day and allowed the Romans no rest. At last they almost got within the gates of the camp, when Q. Aulius, the Master of the Horse, without consulting the Dictator, charged them furiously from the camp with the whole of his cavalry and drove them off. Though this was only a desultory conflict, Fortune influenced it so largely that she inflicted a signal loss on both sides and brought about the deaths of both commanders. First, the Samnite general, indignant at being repulsed and put to flight from the ground over which he had ridden with such confidence, induced his cavalry by entreaties and encouragement to renew the combat. Whilst he was conspicuous amongst them as he urged on the fighting, the Master of the Horse levelled his lance and spurred his horse against him with such force that with one thrust he hurled him from his saddle dead. His men were not, as often happens, dismayed at their leader's fall. All who were round him flung their missiles on Aulius, who had incautiously ridden on amongst them, but they allowed the dead general's brother to have the special glory of avenging his death. In a frenzy of grief and rage he dragged the Master of the Horse out of his saddle and slew him. The Samnites, amongst whom he had fallen, would have secured the body had not the Romans suddenly leaped from their horses, on which the Samnites were obliged to do the same. A fierce infantry fight raged round the bodies of the two generals in which the Roman was decidedly superior; the body of Aulius was rescued, and amidst mingled demonstrations of grief and joy the victors carried it into camp. After losing their leader and seeing the unfavourable result of the trial of strength in the cavalry action, the Samnites considered it useless to make any further efforts on behalf of Saticula and resumed the siege of Plistica. A few days later Saticula surrendered to the Romans and Plistica was carried by assault by the Samnites.
[9.23]The seat of war was now changed; the legions were marched from Samnium and Apulia to Sora. This place had revolted to the Samnites after putting the Roman colonists to death. The Roman army marched thither with all speed to avenge the death of their countrymen and to re-establish the colony. No sooner had they arrived before the place than the reconnoitring parties who had been watching the different routes brought in reports one after another that the Samnites were following and were now at no great distance. The consul marched to meet the enemy, and an indecisive action was fought at Lautulae. The battle was put a stop to, not by the losses or flight of either side but by night, which overtook the combatants while still uncertain whether they were victors or vanquished. I find in some authorities that this battle was unfavourable to the Romans, and that Q. Aulius, the Master of the Horse, fell there. C. Fabius was appointed Master of the Horse in his place and came with a fresh army from Rome. He sent orderlies in advance to consult the Dictator as to where he should take up his position and also as to the time and mode of attacking the enemy. After becoming thoroughly acquainted with the Dictator's plans, he halted his army in a place where he was well concealed. The Dictator kept his men for some days confined to their camp, as though he were enduring a siege rather than conducting one. At last he suddenly displayed the signal for battle. Thinking that brave men were more likely to have their courage stimulated when all their hopes depended upon themselves, he kept the arrival of the Master of the Horse and the fresh army concealed from his soldiers, and as though all their prospects of safety depended upon their cutting their way out, he said to his men: "We have been caught in a position where we are shut in, and we have no way out unless we can open one by our victorious swords. Our standing camp is sufficiently protected by its entrenchments, but it is untenable owing to want of provisions; all the places from which supplies could be obtained have revolted, and even if the people were willing to help us the country is impassable for convoys. I shall not cheat your courage by leaving a camp here into which you can retire, as you did on the last occasion, without winning the victory. Entrenchments are to be protected by arms, not arms by entrenchments. Let those who think it worth their while to prolong the war hold their camp as a place of retreat; we must have regard to nothing but victory. Advance the standards against the enemy, and when the column is clear of the camp those who have been told off for the purpose will set it on fire. What you lose, soldiers, will be made up to you in the plunder of all the surrounding cities which have revolted." The Dictator's words, pointing to the dire necessity to which they were reduced, produced intense excitement, and rendered desperate by the sight of the burning camp - although the Dictator had only ordered some spots nearest to them to be set on fire - they charged like madmen, and at the first onset threw the enemy into confusion. At the same moment the Master of the Horse seeing the burning camp in the distance - the agreed signal - attacked the enemy in the rear. Thus hemmed in, the Samnites fled in all directions, each as best he could. A vast number, who had crowded together in their panic and were so close to one another that they could not use their weapons, were killed between the two armies. The enemy's camp was captured and plundered, and the soldiers, loaded with spoil, were marched back to their own camp. Even their victory did not give them so much pleasure as the discovery that with the exception of a small part spoilt by fire their camp was unexpectedly safe.
[9.24]They then returned to Sora, and the new consuls, M. Poetilius and C. Sulpicius, took over the army from the Dictator Fabius, after a large proportion of the veterans had been sent home and new cohorts brought up as reinforcements. Owing, however, to the difficulties presented by the position of the city, no definite plan of attack was yet formed; a long time would be needed to reduce it by famine, and to attempt to storm it would involve considerable risk. In the midst of this uncertainty a Soran deserter left the town secretly and made his way to the Roman sentinels, whom he requested to conduct him at once to the consuls. On being brought before them he undertook to betray the place into their hands. When questioned as to the means by which he would carry out his undertaking, he laid his proposals before them and they appeared quite feasible. He advised them to remove their camp, which was almost adjoining the walls, to a distance of six miles from the town, this would lead to less vigilance on the part of those who were on outpost duty during the day and sentry duty at night. The following night, after some cohorts had been ordered to conceal themselves in some wooded spots close under the town, he conducted a picked body of ten men by a steep and almost inaccessible path into the citadel. Here a quantity of missile weapons had been collected, far more than would be required for the men who had been brought there, and in addition there were large stones, some lying about as is usual in craggy places, others piled in heaps by the townsmen to use for the defence of the place. When he had posted the Romans here and had pointed out to them a steep and narrow path leading up from the town, he said to them: "From this ascent even three armed men could keep back a multitude however large. You are ten in number, and what is more you are Romans, and the bravest of them. You have the advantage of position and you will be helped by the night, which by its obscurity makes everything look more terrible. I will now spread panic everywhere; you devote yourselves to holding the citadel." Then he ran down and created as great a tumult as he possibly could, shouting: "To arms, citizens! Help, help! The citadel has been seized by the enemy, hasten to its defence!" He kept up the alarm as he knocked at the doors of the principal men, he shouted it in the ears of all whom he met, of all who rushed out terror-struck into the streets. The panic which one man had started was carried by numbers through the city. The magistrates hurriedly sent men up to the citadel to find out what had happened, and when they heard that it was held by an armed force, whose numbers were grossly exaggerated, they gave up all hopes of recovering it. All quarters of the city were filled with fugitives; the gates were burst open by people who were only half awake and mostly without arms, and through one of these the Roman cohorts, roused by the shouting, rushed in and slew the frightened crowds who were thronging the streets. Sora was already captured when in the early dawn the consuls appeared and accepted the surrender of those whom Fortune had spared from the nocturnal massacre. Amongst these two hundred and twenty-five were sent in chains to Rome as they were universally admitted to have been the instigators of the murder of the colonists and the revolt which followed. The rest of the population were left uninjured and a garrison was stationed in the town. All those taken to Rome were scourged and beheaded to the great satisfaction of the plebs, who felt it to be a matter of supreme importance that those who had been sent out in such large numbers as colonists should be safe wherever they were.
[9.25]After leaving Sora the consuls extended the war to the cities and fields of Ausonia, for the whole country had become restless owing to the presence of the Samnites after the battle of Lautulae. Plots were being hatched everywhere throughout Campania, even Capua was not free from disaffection, and it was found upon investigation that the movement had actually reached some of the principal men in Rome. It was, however, as in the case of Sora, through the betrayal of her cities that Ausonia fell under the power of Rome. There were three cities - Ausona, Menturnae, and Vescia - which some twelve young men belonging to the principal families there had mutually agreed to betray to the Romans. They came to the consuls and informed them that their people had long been looking forward to the arrival of the Samnites, and after they had heard of the battle of Lautulae, they looked upon the Romans as vanquished and many of the younger men had volunteered to serve with the Samnites. After the Samnites, however, had been driven out of their country they were wavering between peace and war, afraid to close their gates to the Romans lest they should provoke a war and yet determined to close them if a Roman army approached their city. In this state of indecision they would fall an easy prey. Acting on their advice, the Romans moved their camp into the neighbourhood of these cities, and at the same time soldiers were despatched, some fully armed, to occupy concealed positions near the walls, others in ordinary dress, with swords hidden under their togas, were to enter the cities through the open gates at the approach of daylight. As soon as the latter began to attack the guards the signal was given for the others to rush from their ambush. Thus the gates were secured, and the three towns were captured at the same time and by the same stratagem. As the generals were not there to direct the attack, there was no check upon the carnage which ensued, and the nation of the Ausonians was exterminated, just as if they had been engaged in an internecine war, though there was no certain proof of their having revolted.
[9.26]During this year the Roman garrison at Luceria was treacherously betrayed, and the Samnites became masters of the place. The traitors did not go long unpunished. A Roman army was not far away, and the city, which lay in a plain, was taken at the first assault. The Lucerines and Samnites were put to death, no quarter being given, and such deep indignation was felt at Rome that when the question of sending fresh colonists to Luceria was under discussion in the senate many voted for the complete destruction of the city. Not only the bitter feeling towards a people who had been twice subdued but also the distance from Rome made them shrink from banishing their countrymen so far from home. However, the proposal to despatch colonists was adopted; 2500 were sent. Whilst disloyalty was thus manifesting itself everywhere, Capua also became the centre of intrigues amongst some of her principal men. When the matter came up in the senate, there was a general feeling that it ought to be dealt with at once. A decree was passed authorising the immediate opening of a court of inquiry, and C. Maenius was nominated Dictator to conduct the proceedings. M. Foslius was appointed Master of the Horse. The greatest alarm was created by this step, and the Calavii, Ovius, and Novius, who had been the ringleaders, did not wait to be denounced to the Dictator, but placed themselves beyond the reach of prosecution by what was undoubtedly a self-inflicted death. As there was no longer any matter for investigation at Capua, the inquiry was directed to those who were suspected in Rome. The decree was interpreted as authorising an inquiry, not in regard to Capua especially, but generally in respect of all who had formed cabals and conspiracies against the republic, including the secret leagues entered into by candidates for office. The inquiry began to embrace a wider scope both with respect to the nature of the alleged offences and the persons affected, and the Dictator insisted that the authority vested in him as criminal judge was unlimited. Men of high family were indicted, and no one was allowed to appeal to the tribunes to arrest proceedings. When matters had gone thus far, the nobility - not only those against whom information was being laid, but the order as a whole - protested that the charge did not lie on the patricians, to whom the path to honours always lay open, unless it was obstructed by intrigue, but on the novi homines. They even asserted that the Dictator and the Master of the Horse were more fit to be put upon their trial than to act as inquisitors in cases where this charge was brought, and they would find that out as soon as they had vacated their office.
Under these circumstances, Maenius, more anxious to clear his reputation than to retain his office, came forward in the Assembly and addressed it in the following terms: "You are all cognisant, Quirites, of what my life has been in the past, and this very office which has been conferred upon me is a testimony to my innocence. There are men amongst the nobility - as to their motives it is better that you should form your own opinion than that I, holding the office I do, should say anything without proof - who tried their utmost to stifle this inquiry. When they found themselves powerless to do this they sought to shelter themselves, patricians though they were, behind the stronghold of their opponents, the tribunician veto, so as to escape from trial. At last, driven from that position, and thinking any course safer than that of trying to prove their innocence, they have directed their assaults against us, and private citizens have not been ashamed to demand the impeachment of the Dictator. Now, that gods and men alike may know that in trying to avoid giving an account of themselves these men are attempting the impossible, and that I am prepared to answer any charge and meet my accusers face to face, I at once resign my Dictatorship. And if the senate should assign the task to you, consuls, I beg that you will begin with M. Foslius and myself, so that it may be conclusively shown that we are protected from such charges, not by our official position, but by our innocence." He then at once laid down his office, followed by the Master of the Horse. They were the first to be tried before the consuls, for so the senate ordered, and as the evidence given by the nobles against them completely broke down, they were triumphantly acquitted. Even Publilius Philo, a man who had repeatedly filled the highest offices as a reward for his services at home and in the field, but who was disliked by the nobility, was put on his trial and acquitted. As usual, however, it was only whilst this inquisition was a novelty that it had strength enough to attack illustrious names; it soon began to stoop to humbler victims, until it was at length stifled by the very cabals and factions which it had been instituted to suppress.
[9.27]The rumour of these proceedings, and, still more, the expectation of a Campanian revolt, which had already been secretly organised recalled the Samnites from their designs in Apulia. They marched to Caudium, which from its proximity to Capua would make it easy for them, if the opportunity offered, to wrest that city from the Romans. The consuls marched to Caudium with a strong force. For some time both armies remained in their positions on either side of the pass, as they could only reach each other by a most difficult route. At length the Samnites descended by a short detour through open country into the flat district of Campania, and there for the first time they came within sight of each other's camp. There were frequent skirmishes, in which the cavalry played a greater part than the infantry, and the Romans had no cause to be dissatisfied with these trials of strength, nor with the delay which was prolonging the war. The Samnite generals, on the other hand, saw that these daily encounters involved daily losses, and that the prolongation of the war was sapping their strength. They decided, therefore, to bring on an action. They posted their cavalry on the two flanks of their army with instructions to keep their attention on their camp, in case it were attacked, rather than on the battle, which would be safe in the hands of the infantry. On the other side, the consul Sulpicius directed the right wing Poetilius the left. The Roman right was drawn up in more open order than usual, as the Samnites opposed to them were standing in thinly extended ranks in order either to surround the enemy or to prevent themselves from being surrounded. The left, which was in a much closer formation, was further strengthened by a rapid maneuver of Poetilius, who suddenly brought up into the fighting line the cohorts which were usually kept in reserve, in case the battle was prolonged. He then charged the enemy with his full strength. As the Samnite infantry were shaken by the weight of the attack their cavalry came to their support, and riding obliquely between the two armies were met by the Roman cavalry who charged them at a hard gallop and threw infantry and cavalry alike into confusion, until they had forced back the whole line in this part of the field. Sulpicius was taking his part with Poetilius in encouraging the men in this division, for on hearing the battle-shout raised he had ridden across from his own division, which was not yet engaged. Seeing that the victory was no longer doubtful here he rode back to his post with his 1200 cavalry, but he found a very different condition of things there, the Romans had been driven from their ground and the victorious enemy were pressing them hard. The presence of the consul produced a sudden and complete change, the courage of the men revived at the sight of their general, and the cavalry whom he had brought up rendered an assistance out of all proportion to their numbers, whilst the sound, followed soon by the sight of the success on the other wing, re-animated the combatants to redouble their exertions. From this moment the Romans were victorious along the whole line, and the Samnites abandoning all further resistance, were all killed or taken prisoners, with the exception of those who succeeded in escaping to Maleventum, now called Beneventum. Their loss in prisoners and slain is stated by the chroniclers to have amounted to 30,000.
[9.28]After this great victory the consuls advanced to Bovianum, which they proceeded to invest. They remained there in winter quarters until C. Poetilius, who had been named Dictator with M. Foslius as Master of the Horse, took over the army from the new consuls, L. Papirius Cursor, consul for the fifth time, and C. Junius Bubulcus, for the second time. On learning that the citadel of Fregellae had been captured by the Samnites, he raised the siege of Bovianum and marched to Fregellae. The place was retaken without fighting, for the Samnites evacuated it in the night, and after leaving a strong garrison there, the Dictator returned to Campania with the main object of recovering Nola. At his approach the whole of the Samnite population and the native peasantry retired within the walls. After examining the position of the city, he gave orders for all the buildings outside the wall - and there was a considerable population in the suburbs - to be destroyed in order to render the approach easier. Not long afterwards, Nola was taken, either by the Dictator or by the consul, C. Junius, for both accounts are given. Those who give the credit of the capture to the consul state that Atina and Calatia were also taken by him, and they explain the appointment of Poetilius by saying that he was nominated Dictator for the purpose of driving in the nail on the outbreak of an epidemic. Colonies were sent out this year to Suessa and Pontia; Suessa had belonged to the Auruncans, and the island of Pontia had been inhabited by the Volscians, as it lay off their coast. The senate also authorised the settlement of a colony at Interamna on the Casinus, but it fell to the succeeding consuls, M. Valerius and P. Decius, to appoint the commissioners and send out the colonists to the number of 4000.
[9.29]The Samnite war was now drawing to a close, but before the senate could dismiss it entirely from their thoughts there was a rumour of war on the side of Etruria. With the one exception of the Gauls, no nation was more dreaded at that time, owing to their proximity to Rome and their vast population. One of the consuls remained in Samnium to finish the war, the other, P. Decius, was detained in Rome by serious illness, and on instructions from the senate, nominated C. Junius Bubulcus Dictator. In view of the seriousness of the emergency the Dictator compelled all who were liable for service to take the military oath, and used his utmost endeavours to have arms and whatever else was required in readiness. Notwithstanding the great preparations he was making, he had no intention of assuming the aggressive, and had quite made up his mind to wait until the Etruscans made the first move. The Etruscans were equally energetic in their preparations, and equally reluctant to commence hostilities. Neither side went outside their own frontiers. This year (312 B.C.) was signalised by the censorship of Appius Claudius. His claim to distinction with posterity rests mainly upon his public works, the road and the aqueduct which bear his name. He carried out these undertakings single-handed, for, owing to the odium he incurred by the way he revised the senatorial lists and filled up the vacancies, his colleague, thoroughly ashamed of his conduct, resigned. In the obstinate temper which had always marked his house, Appius continued to hold office alone. It was owing to his action that the Potitii, whose family had always possessed the right of ministering at the Ava Maxima of Hercules, transferred that duty to some temple servants, whom they had instructed in the various observances. There is a strange tradition connected with this, and one well calculated to create religious scruples in the minds of any who would disturb the established order of ceremonial usages. It is said that though when the change was made there were twelve branches of the family of the Potitii comprising thirty adults, not one member, old or young, was alive twelve months later. Nor was the extinction of the Potitian name the only consequence; Appius himself some years afterwards was struck with blindness by the unforgetting wrath of the gods.
[9.30]The consuls for the following year were C. Junius Bubulcus (for the third time) and Q. Aemilius Barbula (for the second time). At the beginning of their year of office they laid a complaint before the Assembly touching the unscrupulous way in which vacancies in the senate had been filled up, men having been passed over who were far superior to some who had been selected, whereby the whole senatorial order had been sullied and disgraced. They declared that the selection had been made solely with a view to popularity and out of sheer caprice, and that no regard whatever had been paid to the good or bad characters of those chosen. They then gave out that they should ignore them altogether, and at once proceeded to call over the names of the senators as they appeared on the roll before Appius Claudius and C. Plautius were made censors. Two official posts were for the first time this year placed at the disposal of the people, both of a military character. One was the office of military tribune; sixteen were henceforth appointed by the people for the four legions; these had hitherto been selected by the Dictators and consuls, very few places being left to the popular vote. L. Atilius and C. Marcius, tribunes of the plebs, were responsible for that measure. The other was the post of naval commissioner; the people were to appoint two to superintend the equipment and refitting of the fleet. This provision was due to M. Decius, a tribune of the plebs. An incident of a somewhat trifling character occurred this year which I should have passed over did it not appear to be connected with religious customs. The guild of flute-players had been forbidden by the censors to hold their annual banquet in the temple of Jupiter, a privilege they had enjoyed from ancient times. Hugely disgusted, they went off in a body to Tibur, and not one was left in the City to perform at the sacrificial rites. The senate were alarmed at the prospect of the various religious ceremonies being thus shorn of their due ritual, and they sent envoys to Tibur, who were to make it their business to see that the Romans got these men back again. The Tiburtines promised to do their best, and invited the musicians into the Senate-house, where they were strongly urged to return to Rome. As they could not be persuaded to do so, the Tiburtines adopted a ruse quite appropriate to the character of the men they were dealing with. It was a feast day and they were invited to various houses, ostensibly to supply music at the banquets. Like the rest of their class, they were fond of wine, and they were plied with it till they drank themselves into a state of torpor. In this condition they were thrown into wagons and carried off to Rome. They were left in the wagons all night in the Forum, and did not recover their senses till daylight surprised them still suffering from the effect of their debauch. The people crowded round them and succeeded in inducing them to stay, and they were granted the privilege of going about the City for three days every year in their long dresses and masks with singing and mirth; a custom which is still observed. Those members of the guild who played on solemn occasions in the temple of Jupiter had the right restored to them of holding their banquets there. These incidents occurred while the public attention was fixed on two most serious wars.
[9.31]The consuls drew lots for their respective commands; the Samnites fell to Junius, the new theatre of war in Etruria to Aemilius. The Roman garrison of Cluvia in Samnium, after being unsuccessfully attacked, were starved into surrender, and were then massacred after being cruelly mangled by the scourge. Enraged at this brutality, Junius felt that the first thing to be done was to attack Cluvia, and on the very day he arrived before the place he took it by storm and put all the adult males to death. Thence his conquering army marched to Bovianum. This was the chief city of the Pentrian Samnites, and by far the wealthiest and best supplied with arms. There was not the same cause for resentment here as at Cluvia, the soldiers were mainly animated by the prospect of plunder, and on the capture of the place the enemy were treated with less severity; but there was almost more booty collected there than from all the rest of Samnium, and the whole of it was generously given up to the soldiers. Now that nothing could withstand the overwhelming might of Roman arms, neither armies nor camps nor cities, the one idea in the minds of all the Samnite leaders was to choose some position from which Roman troops when scattered on their foraging expeditions might be caught and surrounded. Some peasants who pretended to be deserters and some who had, either deliberately or by accident, been made prisoners, came to the consuls with a story in which they all agreed, and which really was true, namely, that an immense quantity of cattle had been driven into a pathless forest. The consuls were induced by this story to send the legions, with nothing but their kits to encumber them, in the direction the cattle had taken, to secure them. A very strong body of the enemy were concealed on either side of the road, and when they saw that the Romans had entered the forest they suddenly raised a shout and made a tumultuous attack upon them. The suddenness of the affair at first created some confusion, while the men were piling their kits in the centre of the column and getting at their weapons, but as soon as they had each freed themselves from their burdens and put themselves in fighting trim, they began to assemble round the standards. From their old discipline and long experience they knew their places in the ranks, and the line was formed without any orders being needed, each man acting on his own initiative.
The consul rode up to the part where the fighting was hottest and, leaping off his horse, called Jupiter, Mars, and other gods to witness that he had not gone into that place in quest of any glory for himself, but solely to provide booty for his soldiers, nor could any other fault be found with him except that he had been too anxious to enrich his men at the expense of the enemy. From that disgrace nothing would clear him but the courage of his men. Only they must one and all make a determined attack. The enemy had been already worsted in the field, stripped of his camp, deprived of his cities, and was now trying the last chance by lurking secretly in ambush and trusting to his ground, not to his arms. What ground was too difficult for Roman courage? He reminded them of the citadels of Fregellae and of Sora and of the successes they had everywhere met with when the nature of the ground was all against them. Fired by his words, his men, oblivious of all difficulties, went straight at the hostile line above them. Some exertion was needed while the column were climbing up the face of the hill, but when once the leading standards had secured a footing on the summit and the army found that it was on favourable ground, it was the enemy's turn to be dismayed; they flung away their arms, and in wild flight made for the lurking-places in which they had shortly before concealed themselves. But the place which they had selected as presenting most difficulty to the enemy now became a trap for themselves, and impeded them in every way. Very few were able to escape. As many as 20,000 men were killed, and the victorious Romans dispersed in different directions to secure the cattle of which the enemy had made them a present.
[9.32]During these occurrences in Samnium the whole of the cities of Etruria with the exception of Arretium had taken up arms and commenced what proved to be a serious war by an attack on Sutrium. This city was in alliance with Rome, and served as a barrier on the side of Etruria. Aemilius marched thither to raise the siege, and selected a site before the city where he entrenched himself. His camp was plentifully supplied with provisions from Sutrium. The Etruscans spent the day after his arrival in discussing whether they should bring on an immediate engagement or protract the war. Their generals decided upon the more energetic course as the safer one, and the next day at sunrise the signal for battle was displayed and the troops marched into the field. As soon as this was reported to the consul he ordered the tessera to be given out, instructing the men to take their breakfast, and after they were strengthened by food to arm themselves for battle. When he saw that they were in complete readiness, he ordered the standards to go forward, and after the army had emerged from the camp he formed his battle-line not far from the enemy. For some time both sides stood in expectation, each waiting for the other to raise the battle-shout and begin the fighting. The sun passed the meridian before a single missile was discharged on either side. At length the Etruscans, not caring to leave the field without securing some success, raised the battle-shout; the trumpets sounded and the standards advanced. The Romans showed no less eagerness to engage. They closed with each other in deadly earnest. The Etruscans had the advantage in numbers, the Romans in courage. The contest was equally maintained and cost many lives, including the bravest on both sides, nor did either army show any signs of giving way until the second Roman line came up fresh into the place of the first, who were wearied and exhausted. The Etruscans had no reserves to support their first line, and all fell in front of their standards or around them. No battle would have witnessed fewer fugitives or involved greater carnage had not the Tuscans, who had made up their minds to die, found protection in the approach of night, so that the victors were the first to desist from fighting. After sunset the signal was given to retire, and both armies returned in the night to their respective camps. Nothing further worth mention took place that year at Sutrium. The enemy had lost the whole of their first line in a single battle and had only their reserves left, who were hardly sufficient to protect their camp. Amongst the Romans there were so many wounded that those who left the field disabled were more numerous than those who had fallen in the battle.
[9.33]The consuls for the following year were Q. Fabius and C. Marcius Rutilus. Fabius took over the command at Sutrium, and brought reinforcements from Rome. A fresh army was also raised in Etruria and sent to support the besiegers. Very many years had elapsed since there had been any contests between the patrician magistrates and the tribunes of the plebs. Now, however, a dispute arose through that family which seemed marked out by destiny to be the cause of quarrels with the plebs and its tribunes. Appius Claudius had now been censor eighteen months, the period fixed by the Aemilian Law for the duration of that office. In spite of the fact that his colleague, C. Plautius, had resigned, he could under no circumstances whatever be induced to vacate his office. P. Sempronius was the tribune of the plebs who commenced an action for limiting his censorship to the legal period. In taking this step he was acting in the interests of justice quite as much as in the interests of the people, and he carried the sympathies of the aristocracy no less than he had the support of the masses. He recited the several provisions of the Aemilian Law and extolled its author, Mamercus Aemilius, the Dictator, for having shortened the censorship. Formerly, he reminded his hearers, it was held for five years, a time long enough to make it tyrannical and despotic, Aemilius limited it to eighteen months. Then turning to Appius he asked him: "Pray tell me, Appius, what would you have done had you been censor at the time that C. Furius and M. Geganius were censors?" Appius Claudius replied that the tribune's question had not much bearing on his case. He argued that though the law might be binding in the case of those censors during whose period of office it was passed, because it was after they had been appointed that the people ordered the measure to become law, and the last order of the people was law for the time being, nevertheless, neither he nor any of the censors subsequently appointed could be bound by it because all succeeding censors had been appointed by the order of the people and the last order of the people was the law for the time being.
[9.34]This quibble on the part of Appius convinced no one. Sempronius then addressed the Assembly in the following language: "Quirites, here you have the progeny of that Appius who, after being appointed decemvir for one year, appointed himself for a second year, and then, without going through any form of appointment either at his own hands or at any one else's, retained the fasces and the supreme authority for a third year, and persisted in retaining them until the power which he gained by foul means, exercised by foul means, and retained by foul means, proved his ruin. This is the family, Quirites, by whose violence and lawlessness you were driven out of your City and compelled to occupy the Sacred Mount; the family against which you won the protection of your tribunes; the family on whose account you took up your position, in two armies, on the Aventine. It is this family which has always opposed the laws against usury and the agrarian laws; which interfered with the right of intermarriage between patricians and plebeians; which blocked the path of the plebs to curule offices. This name is much more deadly to your liberties than the name of the Tarquins. Is it really the case, Appius Claudius, that though it is a hundred years since Mamercus Aemilius was Dictator, and there have been all those censors since, men of the highest rank and strength of character, not one of them ever read the Twelve Tables, not one of them knew that the last order of the people is the law for the time being? Of course they all knew it, and because they knew it they preferred to obey the Aemilian Law rather than that older one by which the censors were originally appointed, simply because the former was the last passed by order of the people and also because when two laws contradict each other the later one repeals the earlier. Do you maintain, Appius, that the people are not bound by the Aemilian Law, or do you claim, if they are bound by it, that you alone are exempt from its provisions? That law availed to bind those arbitrary censors C. Furius and M. Geganius, who gave us a proof of the mischief which that office could work in the republic when, in revenge for the limitation of their power, they placed among the aerarii the foremost soldier and statesman of his time, Mamercus Aemilius. It bound all the succeeding censors for a hundred years, it binds your colleague C. Plautius, who was appointed under the same auspices, with the same powers as yourself. Did not the people appoint him 'with all the customary powers and privileges' that a censor can possess? Or are you the solitary exception in whom all these powers and privileges reside? Whom then can you appoint as 'king for sacrifices'? He will cling to the name of 'king' and say that he was appointed with all the powers that the Kings of Rome possessed. Who do you suppose would be contented with a six months' dictatorship or a five days' interregnum? Whom would you venture to nominate as Dictator for the purpose of driving in the nail or presiding at the Games? How stupid and spiritless, Quirites, you must consider those men to have been who after their magnificent achievements resigned their dictatorship in twenty days, or vacated their office owing to some flaw in their appointment! But why should I recall instances of old time? It is not ten years since C. Maenius as Dictator was conducting a criminal process with a rigour which some powerful people considered dangerous to themselves, and in consequence his enemies charged him with being tainted with the very crime he was investigating. He at once resigned his dictatorship in order to meet, as a private citizen, the charges brought against him. I am far from wishing to see such moderation in you, Appius. Do not show yourself a degenerate scion of your house; do not fall short of your ancestors in their craving for power, their love of tyranny; do not vacate your office a day or an hour sooner than you are obliged, only see that you do not exceed the fixed term. Perhaps you will be satisfied with an additional day or an additional month? 'No,' he says, 'I shall hold my censorship for three years and a half beyond the period fixed by the Aemilian Law and I shall hold it alone.' This sounds very much like an absolute monarch. Or will you co-opt a colleague, a proceeding forbidden by divine laws even where one has been lost by death?
"There is a sacred function going back to the very earliest times, the only one actually initiated by the deity in whose honour it is performed, which has always been discharged by men of the highest rank and most blameless character. You, conscientious censor that you are, have transferred this ministry to servants, and a House older than this City, hallowed by the hospitality they showed to immortal gods, has become extinct in one short year owing to you and your censorship. But this is not enough for you, you will not rest till you have involved the whole commonwealth in a sacrilege the consequences of which I dare not contemplate. The capture of this City occurred in that lustrum in which the censor, L. Papirius Cursor, after the death of his colleague, C. Julius, co-opted as his colleague M. Cornelius Maluginensis sooner than abdicate his office. And yet how much more moderation did he show even then than you, Appius; he did not continue to hold his censorship alone nor beyond the legal term. L. Papirius did not, however, find any one to follow his example, all succeeding censors resigned office on the death of their colleague. But nothing restrains you, neither the expiry of your term of office nor the resignation of your colleague nor the Law nor any feeling of self-respect. You consider it a merit to show arrogance, effrontery, contempt of gods and men. When I consider the majesty and reverence which surround the office that you have held, Appius Claudius, I am most reluctant to subject you to personal restraint or even to address you in severe terms. But your obstinacy and arrogance have compelled me to speak as I have done, and now I warn you that if you do not comply with the Aemilian Law I shall order you to be taken to prison. Our ancestors made it a rule that if at the election of censors two candidates did not get the requisite majority of votes one should not be returned alone, but the election should be adjourned. Under this rule, as you cannot be appointed sole censor, I will not allow you to remain in office alone." He then ordered the censor to be arrested and taken to prison. Appius formally appealed to the protection of the tribunes, and though Sempronius was supported by six of his colleagues, the other three vetoed any further proceedings. Appius continued to hold his office alone amidst universal indignation and disgust.
[9.35]During these proceedings in Rome the siege of Sutrium was being kept up by the Etruscans. The consul Fabius was marching to assist the allies of Rome and to attempt the enemy's lines wherever it seemed practicable. His route lay along the lowest slopes of the mountain range, when he came upon the hostile forces drawn up in battle formation. The wide plain which stretched below revealed their enormous numbers, and in order to compensate for his own inferiority in that respect by the advantage of position, he deflected his column a little way on to the rising ground, which was rough and covered with stones. He then formed his front against the enemy. The Etruscans, thinking of nothing but their numbers, on which they solely relied, came on with such eager impetuosity that they flung away their javelins in order to come more quickly to a hand-to-hand fight, and rushed upon their foe with drawn swords. The Romans, on the other hand, showered down upon them first their javelins and then the stones with which the ground plentifully supplied them. Shields and helmets alike were struck, and those who were not wounded were confounded and bewildered; it was almost impossible for them to get to close quarters, and they had no missiles with which to keep up the fight from a distance. Whilst they were standing as a mark for the missiles, without any sufficient protection, some even retreating, the whole line wavering and unsteady, the Roman hastati and principes raised their battle-shout again and charged down upon them with drawn swords. The Etruscans did not wait for the charge but faced about and in disorderly flight made for their camp. The Roman cavalry, however, galloping in a slanting direction across the plain, headed off the fugitives, who gave up all idea of reaching their camp and turned off to the mountains. For the most part without arms, and with a large proportion of wounded, the fugitives entered the Ciminian forest. Many thousands of Etruscans were killed, thirty-eight standards were taken, and in the capture of the camp the Romans secured an immense amount of booty. Then the question was discussed whether to pursue the enemy or no.
[9.36]The Ciminian forest was, in those days, more frightful and impassable than the German forests were recently found to be; not a single trader had, up to that time, ventured through it. Of those present in the council of war, hardly any one but the general himself was bold enough to undertake to enter it; they had not yet forgotten the horrors of Caudium. According to one tradition, it appears that M. Fabius, the consul's brother - others say Caeso, others again L. Claudius, the consul's half-brother - declared that he would go and reconnoitre, and shortly return with accurate information. He had been brought up in Caere, and was thoroughly conversant with the Etruscan language and literature. There is authority for asserting that at that time Roman boys were, as a rule, instructed in Etruscan literature as they now are in Greek, but I think the probability is that there was something remarkable about the man who displayed such boldness in disguising himself and mingling with the enemy. He is said to have been accompanied by only one servant, and during their journey they only made brief inquiries as to the nature of the country and the names of its leading men, lest they should make some startling blunder in conversing with the natives and so be found out. They went disguised as shepherds, with their rustic weapons, each carrying two bills and two heavy javelins. But neither their familiarity with the language nor the fashion of their dress nor their implements afforded them so much protection as the impossibility of believing that any stranger would enter the Ciminian forest. It is stated that they penetrated as far as Camerinum in Umbria, and on their arrival there the Roman ventured to say who they were. He was introduced into the senate, and, acting in the consul's name, he established a treaty of friendship with them. After having been most kindly and hospitably received, he was requested to inform the Romans that thirty days' provision would be ready for them if they came into that district, and the Camertine soldiery would be prepared to act under their orders. When the consul received this report, he sent the baggage on in advance at the first watch. The legions were ordered to march behind the baggage, while he himself remained behind with the cavalry. The following day at dawn he rode up with his cavalry to the enemy's outposts stationed on the edge of the forest, and after he had engaged their attention for a considerable time, he returned to the camp and, in the evening, leaving by the rear gate, he started after the column. By dawn on the following day he was holding the nearest heights of the Ciminian range, and after surveying the rich fields of Etruria he sent out parties to forage. A very large quantity of plunder had already been secured when some cohorts of Etruscan peasantry, hastily got together by the authorities of the neighbourhood, sought to check the foragers; they were, however, so badly organised that, instead of rescuing the prey, they almost fell a prey themselves. After putting them to flight with heavy loss, the Romans ravaged the country far and wide, and returned to their camp loaded with plunder of every kind. It happened to be during this raid that a deputation, consisting of five members of the senate with two tribunes of the plebs, came to warn Fabius, in the name of the senate, not to traverse the Ciminian forest. They were very glad to find that they had come too late to prevent the expedition, and returned to Rome to report victory.
[9.37]This expedition did not bring the war to a close, it only extended it. The whole country lying below the Ciminian range had felt the effect of his devastations, and they roused the indignation of the cantons of Etruria and of the adjoining districts of Umbria. A larger army than had ever assembled before was marched to Sutrium. Not only did they advance their camp beyond the edge of the forest, but they showed such eagerness that they marched down in battle order on to the plain as soon as possible. After advancing some distance they halted. leaving a space between them and the Roman camp for the enemy to form his lines. When they became aware that their enemy declined battle, they marched up to the rampart of the camp and, on seeing that the outposts retired within the camp, they loudly insisted upon their generals ordering the day's rations to be brought down to them from their camp, as they intended to remain under arms and attack the hostile camp, if not by night, at all events at dawn. The Romans were quite as excited at the prospect of battle, but they were kept quiet by their commander's authority. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when the general ordered the troops to take food, and instructed them to remain under arms and in readiness at whatever hour he gave the signal, whether by day or by night. In a brief address to his men he drew a contrast between the military qualities of the Samnites and those of the Etruscans, speaking highly of the former and disparaging the latter, saying that there was no comparison between them as regarded either their courage or their numbers. They would learn in time that he had another weapon in reserve, meanwhile he must keep silence. By these dark hints he made his men believe that the enemy were being betrayed, and this helped to restore the courage which had quailed at the sight of such an immense multitude. This impression was confirmed by the absence of any intention on the part of the enemy to entrench the ground they were occupying.
After the troops had had dinner, they rested until about the fourth watch. Then they rose quietly and armed themselves. A quantity of mattock-headed axes were distributed to the camp-followers, with which they were to dig away the rampart and fill up the fosse with it. The troops were formed up within their entrenchments, and picked cohorts were posted at the exits of the camp. Then a little before dawn - in summer nights the time for deepest sleep - the signal was given, the men crossed the levelled rampart in line and fell upon the enemy, who were lying about in all directions. Some were killed before they could stir, others only half awake as they lay, most of them whilst wildly endeavouring to seize their arms. Only a few had time to arm themselves, and these, with no standards under which to rally, no officers to lead them, were routed and fled, the Romans following in hot pursuit. Some sought their camp, others the forest. The latter proved the safer refuge, for the camp, situated in the plain below, was taken the same day. The gold and silver were ordered to be brought to the consul; the rest of the spoil became the property of the soldiers. The killed and prisoners amounted to 60,000. Some authors assert that this great battle was fought beyond the Ciminian forest, at Perusia, and that fears were felt in the City lest the army, cut off from all help by that terrible forest, should be overwhelmed by a united force of Tuscans and Umbrians. But wherever it was fought, the Romans had the best of it. As a result of this victory, Perusia, Cortona, and Arretium, which were at that time the three leading cantons of Etruria, sent to Rome for a treaty of peace. A thirty years' truce was granted them.
[9.38]During these occurrences in Etruria the other consul, C. Marcius Rutilus, took Allifae from the Samnites. Many other fortified posts and hamlets were either destroyed or passed uninjured into the power of the Romans. While this was going on, P. Cornelius, whom the senate had made maritime prefect, took the Roman fleet to Campania and brought up at Pompeii. Here the crews landed and proceeded to ravage the territory of Nuceria. After devastating the district near the coast, from which they could have easily reached their ships, they went further inland, attracted as usual by the desire for plunder, and here they roused the inhabitants against them. As long as they were scattered through the fields they met nobody, though they might have been cut off to a man, but when they returned, thinking themselves perfectly safe, they were overtaken by the peasants and stripped of all their plunder. Some were killed; the survivors were driven helter-skelter to their ships. However great the alarm created in Rome by Q. Fabius' expedition through the Ciminian forest, there was quite as much pleasure felt by the Samnites when they heard of it. They said that the Roman army was hemmed in; it was the Caudine disaster over again; the old recklessness had again led a nation always greedy for further conquests into an impassable forest; they were beset by the difficulties of the ground quite as much as by hostile arms. Their delight was, however, tinged with envy when they reflected that fortune had diverted the glory of finishing the war with Rome from the Samnites to the Etruscans. So they concentrated their whole strength to crush C. Marcius or, if he did not give them a chance of fighting, to march through the country of the Marsi and Sabines into Etruria. The consul advanced against them, and a desperate battle was fought with no decisive result. Which side lost most heavily was doubtful, but a rumour was spread that the Romans had been worsted, as they had lost some belonging to the equestrian order and some military tribunes, besides a staff officer, and - what was a signal disaster - the consul himself was wounded. Reports of the battle, exaggerated as usual, reached Rome and created the liveliest alarm among the senators. It was decided that a Dictator should be nominated, and no one had the slightest doubt that Papirius Cursor would be nominated, the one man who was regarded as the supreme general of his day. But they did not believe that a messenger could get through to the army in Samnium, as the whole country was hostile, nor were they by any means sure that Marcius was still alive.
The other consul, Fabius, was on bad terms with Papirius. To prevent this private feud from causing public danger, the senate resolved to send a deputation to Fabius, consisting of men of consular rank, who were to support their authority as public envoys by using their personal influence to induce him to lay aside all feelings of enmity for the sake of his country. When they had handed to Fabius the resolution of the senate, and had employed such arguments as their instructions demanded, the consul, keeping his eyes fixed on the ground, withdrew from the deputation, without making any reply and leaving them in utter uncertainty as to what he would do. Subsequently, he nominated L. Papirius Dictator according to the traditional usage at midnight. When the deputation thanked him for having shown such rare self-command, he remained absolutely silent, and without vouchsafing any reply or making any allusion to what he had done, he abruptly dismissed them, showing by his conduct what a painful effort it had cost him. Papirius named C. Junius Bubulcus, Master of the Horse. Whilst he was submitting to the Assembly of Curies the resolution conferring the Dictatorial power, an unfavourable omen compelled him to adjourn the proceedings. It fell to the Faucian cury to vote first, and this cury had voted first in the years in which two memorable disasters occurred, the capture of the City and the capitulation of Caudium. Licinius Macer adds a third disaster through which this cury became ill-omened, the massacre at the Cremera.
[9.39]The following day, after fresh auspices had been taken, the Dictator was invested with his official powers. He took command of the legions which were raised during the scare connected with the expedition through the Ciminian forest, and led them to Longula. Here he took over the consul's troops, and with the united force went into the field. The enemy showed no disposition to shirk battle, but while the two armies stood facing each other fully prepared for action, yet neither anxious to begin, they were overtaken by night. Their standing camps were within a short distance of each other, and for some days they remained quiet, not, however, through any distrust of their own strength or any feeling of contempt for the enemy. Meantime the Romans were meeting with success in Etruria, for in an engagement with the Umbrians the enemy were unable to keep up the fight with the spirit with which they began it, and, without any great loss, were completely routed. An engagement also took place at Lake Vadimonis, where the Etruscans had concentrated an army raised under a lex sacrata, in which each man chose his comrade. As their army was more numerous than any they had previously raised, so they exhibited a higher courage than they had ever shown before. So savage was the feeling on both sides that, without discharging a single missile, they began the fight at once with swords. The fury displayed in the combat, which long hung in the balance, was such that it seemed as though it was not the Etruscans who had been so often defeated that we were fighting with, but some new, unknown people. There was not the slightest sign of yielding anywhere; as the men in the first line fell, those in the second took their places, to defend the standards. At length the last reserves had to be brought up, and to such an extremity of toil and danger had matters come that the Roman cavalry dismounted, and, leaving their horses in charge, made their way over piles of armour and heaps of slain to the front ranks of the infantry. They appeared like a fresh army amongst the exhausted combatants, and at once threw the Etruscan standards into confusion. The rest of the men, worn out as they were, nevertheless followed up the cavalry attack, and at last broke through the enemy's ranks. Their determined resistance was now overcome, and when once their maniples began to give way, they soon took to actual flight. That day broke for the first time the power of the Etruscans after their long-continued and abundant prosperity. The main strength of their army was left on the field, and their camp was taken and plundered.
[9.40]Equally hard fighting and an equally brilliant success characterised the campaign which immediately followed against the Samnites. In addition to their usual preparations for war, they had new glittering armour made in which their troops were quite resplendent. There were two divisions; one had their shields plated with gold, the other with silver. The shield was made straight and broad at the top to cover the chest and shoulders, then became narrower towards the bottom to allow of it being more easily moved about. To protect the front of the body they wore coats of chain armour; the left leg was covered with a greave, and their helmets were plumed to give them the appearance of being taller than they really were. The tunics of the men with gold plated shields were in variegated colours, those with the silver shields had tunics of white linen. The latter were assigned to the right wing, the former were posted on the left. The Romans knew that all this splendid armour had been provided, and they had been taught by their generals that a soldier ought to inspire dread not by being decked out in gold and silver but by trusting to his courage and his sword. They looked upon those things as a spoil for the enemy rather than a defence for the wearer, resplendent enough before a battle but soon stained and fouled by wounds and bloodshed. They knew that the one ornament of the soldier was courage, and all that finery would belong to whichever side won the victory; an enemy however rich was the prize of the victor, however poor the victor might be.
With this teaching fresh in their minds, Cursor led his men into battle. He took his place on the right wing, and gave the command of the left to the Master of the Horse. As soon as the two lines came into collision, a contest began between the Dictator and the Master of the Horse, quite as keen as the struggle against the enemy, as to whose division should be the first to win the victory. Junius happened to be the first to dislodge the enemy. Bringing up his left wing against the enemy's right, where the "devoted" soldiers were posted, conspicuous in their white tunics and glittering armour, he declared that he would sacrifice them to Orcus, and, pushing the attack, he shook their ranks and made them visibly give way. On seeing this, the Dictator exclaimed, "Shall the victory begin on the left wing? Is the right wing, the Dictator's own division, going to follow where another had led the way in battle, and not win for itself the greatest share of the victory?" This roused the men; the cavalry behaved with quite as much gallantry as the infantry, and the staff-officers displayed no less energy than the generals. M. Valerius on the right wing, and P. Decius on the left, both men of consular rank, rode up to the cavalry who were covering the flanks and urged them to snatch some of the glory for themselves. They charged the enemy on both flanks, and the double attack increased the consternation of the enemy. To complete their discomfiture, the Roman legions again raised their battle-shout and charged home. Now the Samnites took to flight, and soon the plain was filled with shining armour and heaps of bodies. At first the terrified Samnites found shelter in their camp, but they were not able even to hold that; it was captured, plundered, and burnt before nightfall.
The senate decreed a triumph for the Dictator. By far the greatest sight in the procession was the captured armour, and so magnificent were the pieces considered that the gilded shields were distributed amongst the owners of the silversmiths' shops to adorn the Forum. This is said to be the origin of the custom of the aediles decorating the Forum when the symbols of three Capitoline deities are conducted in procession through the City on the occasion of the Great Games. Whilst the Romans made use of this armour to honour the gods, the Campanians, out of contempt and hatred towards the Samnites, made the gladiators who performed at their banquets wear it, and they then called them "Samnites." The consul Fabius fought a battle this year with the remnants of the Etruscans at Perusia, for this city had broken the truce. He gained an easy and decisive victory, and after the battle he approached the walls and would have taken the place had not envoys been sent on to surrender it. After he had stationed a garrison in Perusia, deputations came to him from different cities in Etruria to ask for a restoration of amicable relations; these he sent on to the senate at Rome. Then he entered the city in triumphal procession, after achieving a more solid success than the Dictator, especially as the defeat of the Samnites was put down largely to the credit of the staff-officers, P. Decius and M. Valerius. These men were chosen by an almost unanimous vote at the next elections - one as consul, the other as praetor.
[9.41]Owing to his splendid services in the subjugation of Etruria, the consulship of Fabius was extended to another year, Decius being his colleague. Valerius was elected praetor for the fourth time. The consuls arranged their respective commands; Etruria fell to Decius, and Samnium to Fabius. Fabius marched to Nuceria, where the people of Alfaterna met him with a request for peace, but as they had refused it when offered to them before, he declined to grant it now. It was not till he actually began to attack the place that they were forced into unconditional surrender. He fought an action with the Samnites and won an easy victory. The memory of that battle would not have survived if it had not been that the Marsi engaged for the first time on that occasion in hostilities with Rome. The Peligni, who had followed the example of the Marsi, met with the same fate. The other consul, Decius, was also successful. He inspired such alarm in Tarquinii that its people provided his army with corn and asked for a forty years' truce. He captured several fortified posts belonging to Volsinii, some of which he destroyed that they might not serve as retreats for the enemy, and by extending his operations in all directions he made his name so dreaded that the whole Etruscan league begged him to grant a treaty. There was not the slightest chance of their obtaining one, but a truce was granted them for one year. They had to provide a year's pay for the troops and two tunics for every soldier. That was the price of the truce.
While matters were thus quieted in Etruria fresh trouble was caused by the sudden defection of the Umbrians, a people hitherto untouched by the ravages of war beyond what their land had suffered from the passage of the Romans. They called out all their fighting men and compelled a large section of the Etruscan population to resume hostilities. The army which they mustered was so large that they began to talk in very braggart tones about themselves and in very contemptuous terms about the Romans. They even expressed their intention of leaving Decius in their rear and marching straight to attack Rome. Their intentions were disclosed to Decius; he at once hastened by forced marches to a city outside the frontiers of Etruria and took up a position in the territory of Pupinia, to watch the enemy's movements. This hostile movement on the part of the Umbrians was regarded very seriously in Rome, even their menacing language made people, after their experience of the Gaulish invasion, tremble for the safety of their City. Instructions were accordingly sent to Fabius, ordering him, if he could for the time being suspend operations in Samnium, to march with all speed into Umbria. The consul at once acted upon his instructions and proceeded by forced marches to Mevania, where the forces of the Umbrians were stationed. They were under the impression that he was far away in Samnium, with another war on his hands, and his sudden arrival produced such consternation amongst them, that some advised a retreat into their fortified cities, while others were in favour of abandoning the war. There was one canton - the natives call it Materina - which not only kept the rest under arms but even induced them to come to an immediate engagement. They attacked Fabius while he was fortifying his camp. When he saw them making a rush towards his entrenchments he called his men off from their work and marshalled them in the best order that the ground and the time at his disposal allowed. He reminded them of the glory they had won in Etruria and in Samnium, and bade them finish off this wretched aftergrowth of the Etruscan war and exact a fitting retribution for the impious language in which the enemy had threatened to attack Rome. His words were received with such eagerness by his men that their enthusiastic shouts interrupted their commander's address, and without waiting for the word of command or the notes of the trumpets and bugles they raced forward against the enemy. They did not attack them as though they were armed men; marvellous to relate, they began by snatching the standards from those who bore them, then the standard-bearers were themselves dragged off to the consul, the soldiers were pulled across from the one army to the other, the action was everywhere fought with shields rather than with swords, men were knocked down by the bosses of shields and blows under the arm-pits. More were captured than killed, and only one cry was heard throughout the ranks: "Lay down your arms!" So, on the field of battle, the prime authors of the war surrendered. During the next few days the rest of the Umbrian communities submitted. The Ocriculans entered into a mutual undertaking with Rome and were admitted to her friendship.
[9.42]After bringing to a victorious close the war which had been allotted to his colleague, Fabius returned to his own sphere of action. As he had conducted operations with such success the senate followed the precedent set by the people in the previous year and extended his command for a third year in spite of the strenuous opposition of Appius Claudius who was now consul, the other consul being L. Volumnius. I find in some annalists that Appius was a candidate for the consulship while he was still censor, and that L. Furius, a tribune of the plebs, stopped the election until he had resigned his censorship. A new enemy, the Sallentines, had appeared, and the conduct of this war was assigned to his colleague; Appius himself remained in Rome with the view of strengthening his influence by his domestic administration, as the attainment of military glory was in other hands. Volumnius had no cause to regret this arrangement, he fought many successful actions and took some of the enemy's cities by storm. He was lavish in distributing the spoil, and this generosity was rendered still more pleasing by his frank and cordial manner; by qualities such as these he made his men keen to face any perils or labours. Q. Fabius, as proconsul, fought a pitched battle with the Samnites near the city of Allifae. There was very little uncertainty as to the result; the enemy were routed and driven to their camp, and they would not have held that had more daylight been left. Before night, however, their camp was completely invested, so that none could escape. On the morrow while it was still twilight they made proposals for surrender, and their surrender was accepted on condition that the Samnites should be dismissed with one garment apiece after they had all passed under the yoke. No provision had been made for their allies, and as many as 7000 of them were sold into slavery. Those who declared themselves Hernicans were separated and placed under guard; subsequently Fabius sent them all to the senate in Rome. After inquiries had been made as to whether they had fought for the Samnites against Rome as conscripts or as volunteers, they were committed to the custody of the Latin cities. The new consuls, P. Cornelius Arvina and Q. Marcius Tremulus, were ordered to bring the whole question of the prisoners before the senate. The Hernicans resented this, and a national council was held at Anagnia in what they call the Maritime Circus; the whole nation thereupon, with the exception of Aletrium, Ferentinae, and Verulae, declared war against Rome.
[9.43]Now that Fabius had evacuated the country the Samnites became restless. Calatia and Sora and the Roman garrisons there were taken by storm, and the soldiers who had been taken prisoners were cruelly massacred. P. Cornelius was despatched thither with an army. The Anagnians and Hernicans had been assigned to Marcius. At first the enemy occupied such a well-chosen position between the camps of the two consuls that no messenger, however active, could get through, and for some days both consuls were kept in ignorance of everything and in anxious suspense as to each other's movements. Tidings of this alarming state of things reached Rome, and every man liable to service was called out; two complete armies were raised against sudden emergencies. But the progress of the war did not justify this extreme alarm, nor was it worthy of the old reputation which the Hernicans enjoyed. They attempted nothing worth mentioning, within a few days they were stripped of three camps in succession, and begged for a thirty days' armistice to allow of their sending envoys to Rome. To obtain this they consented to supply the troops with six months' pay and one tunic per man. The envoys were referred by the senate to Marcius, to whom they had given full powers to treat, and he received the formal surrender of the Hernicans. The other consul in Samnium, though superior in strength, was more hampered in his movements. The enemy had blocked all the roads and secured the passes so that no supplies could be brought in, and though the consul drew up his line and offered battle each day he failed to allure the enemy into an engagement. It was quite clear that the Samnites would not risk an immediate conflict, and that the Romans could not stand a prolonged campaign. The arrival of Marcius, who after subjugating the Hernicans had hurried to the assistance of his colleague, made it impossible for the enemy to delay matters any longer. They had not felt themselves strong enough to meet even one army in the open field, and they knew that their position would be perfectly hopeless if the two consular armies formed a junction; they decided, therefore, to attack Marcius while he was on the march before he had time to deploy his men. The soldiers' kits were hurriedly thrown together in the centre, and the fighting line was formed as well as the time allowed. The noise of the battle-shout rolling across and then the sight of the cloud of dust in the distance created great excitement in the standing camp of Cornelius. He at once ordered the men to arm for battle, and led them hurriedly out of the camp into line. It would, he exclaimed, be a scandalous disgrace if they allowed the other army to win a victory which both ought to share, and failed to maintain their claim to the glory of a war which was especially their own. He then made a flank attack, and breaking through the enemy's centre pushed on to their camp, which was denuded of defenders, and burnt it. As soon as Marcius' troops caught sight of the flames, and the enemy looking behind them saw them too, the Samnites took to flight in all directions, but no place afforded them a safe refuge, death awaited them everywhere.
After 30,000 of the enemy had been killed the consuls gave the signal to retire. They were recalling and collecting the troops together amidst mutual congratulations when suddenly fresh cohorts of the enemy were seen in the distance, consisting of recruits who had been sent up as reinforcements. This renewed the carnage, for, without any orders from the consuls or any signal given, the victorious Romans attacked them, exclaiming as they charged that the Samnite recruits would have to pay dearly for their training. The consuls did not check the ardour of their men, for they knew well that raw soldiers would not even attempt to fight when the veterans around them were in disorderly flight. Nor were they mistaken; all the Samnite forces, veterans and recruits alike, fled to the nearest mountains. The Romans went up after them, no place afforded safety to the beaten foe, they were routed from the heights they had occupied, and at last with one voice they all begged for peace. They were ordered to supply corn for three months, a year's pay, and a tunic for each soldier, and envoys were despatched to the senate to obtain terms of peace. Cornelius was left in Samnium; Marcius entered the City in triumphal procession after his subjugation of the Hernicans. An equestrian statue was decreed to him which was erected in the Forum in front of the Temple of Castor. Three of the Hernican communities - Aletrium, Verulae, and Ferentinum - had their municipal independence restored to them as they preferred that to the Roman franchise, and the right of intermarriage with each other was granted them, a privilege which for a considerable period they were the only communities amongst the Hernicans to enjoy. The Anagnians and the others who had taken up arms against Rome were admitted to the status of citizenship without the franchise, they were deprived of their municipal self-government and the right of intermarriage with each other, and their magistrates were forbidden to exercise any functions except those connected with religion. In this year the censor C. Junius Bubulcus signed a contract for the building of the temple to Salus which he had vowed when engaged as consul in the Samnite war. He and his colleague, M. Valerius Maximus, also undertook the construction of roads through the country districts out of the public funds. The treaty with the Carthaginians was renewed for the third time this year and munificent presents were made to the plenipotentiaries who had come over for the purpose.
[9.44]P. Cornelius Scipio was nominated Dictator this year, with P. Decius Mus as Master of the Horse, for the purpose of holding the elections, as neither of the consuls could leave the seat of war. The consuls elected were L. Postumius and Tiberius Minucius. Piso places these consuls immediately after Q. Fabius and P. Decius, omitting the two years in which I have inserted the consulships of Claudius and Volumnius and of Cornelius and Marcius. Whether this was due to a slip of memory in drawing up the lists or whether he purposely omitted them, believing them to be wrongly inserted, is uncertain. The Samnites made forays this year into the district of Stellae in Campania. Both consuls accordingly were despatched to Samnium. Postumius marched to Tifernum, Minucius made Bovianum his objective. Postumius was the first to come into touch with the enemy and a battle was fought at Tifernum. Some authorities state that the Samnites were thoroughly beaten and 24,000 prisoners taken. According to others the battle was an indecisive one, and Postumius, in order to create an impression that he was afraid of the enemy, withdrew by night into the mountains, whither the enemy followed him and took up an entrenched position two miles away from him. To keep up the appearance of having sought a safe and commodious place for a standing camp - and such it really was - the consul strongly entrenched himself and furnished his camp with all necessary stores. Then, leaving a strong detachment to hold it, he started at the third watch and led his legions in light marching order by the shortest possible route to his colleague, who was also encamped in front of another Samnite army. Acting on Postumius' advice Minucius engaged the enemy, and after the battle had gone on for the greater part of the day without either side gaining the advantage, Postumius brought up his fresh legions and made an unsuspected attack upon the enemy's wearied lines. Exhausted by fighting and by wounds they were incapable of flight and were practically annihilated. Twenty-one standards were captured. Both armies marched to the camp which Postumius had formed, and there they routed and dispersed the enemy, who were demoralised by the news of the previous battle. Twenty-six standards were captured, the captain-general of the Samnites, Statius Gellius, and a large number of men were made prisoners, and both camps were taken. The next day they commenced an attack on Bovianum which was soon taken, and the consuls after their brilliant successes celebrated a joint triumph. Some authorities assert that the consul Minucius was carried back to the camp severely wounded and died there, and that M. Fulvius was made consul in his place, and after taking over the command of Minucius' army effected the capture of Bovianum. During the year Sora, Arpinum, and Cesennia were recovered from the Samnites. The great statue of Hercules was also set up and dedicated in the Capitol.
[9.45]P. Sulpicius Saverrio and P. Sempronius Sophus were the next consuls. During their consulship the Samnites, anxious for either a termination or at least a suspension of hostilities, sent envoys to Rome to sue for peace. In spite of their submissive attitude they did not meet with a very favourable reception. The reply they received was to the effect that if the Samnites had not often made proposals for peace while they were actually preparing for war negotiations might possibly have been entered into, but now as their words had proved worthless the question must be decided by their deeds. They were informed that the consul P. Sempronius would shortly be in Samnium with his army, and he would be able to judge accurately whether they were more disposed to peace or to war. When he had obtained all the information that he wanted he would lay it before the senate; on his return from Samnium the envoys might follow him to Rome. Wherever Sempronius marched they found the Samnites peaceably disposed and ready to supply them with provisions and stores. The old treaty was therefore restored. From that quarter the Roman arms were turned against their old enemies the Aequi. For many years this nation had remained quiet, disguising their real sentiments under a peaceable attitude. As long as the Hernicans remained unsubdued the Aequi had frequently co-operated with them in sending help to the Samnites, but after their final subjugation almost the whole of the Aequian nation threw off the mask and openly went over to the enemy. After Rome had renewed the treaty with the Samnites the fetials went on to the Aequi to demand satisfaction. They were told that their demand was simply regarded as an attempt on the part of the Romans to intimidate them by threats of war into becoming Roman citizens. How desirable a thing this citizenship was might be seen in the case of the Hernicans who, when allowed to choose, preferred living under their own laws to becoming citizens of Rome. To men who were not allowed which they would prefer, but were made Roman citizens by compulsion, it would be a punishment.
As these opinions were pretty generally expressed in their different councils, the Romans ordered war to be declared against the Aequi. Both the consuls took the field and selected a position four miles distant from the enemy's camp. As the Aequi had for many years had no experience of a national war, their army was like a body of irregulars with no properly appointed generals and no discipline or obedience. They were in utter confusion; some were of opinion that they ought to give battle, others thought they ought to confine themselves to defending their camp. The majority were influenced by the prospect of their fields being devastated and their cities, with their scanty garrisons, being destroyed. In this diversity of opinions one was given utterance to which put out of sight all care for the common weal and directed each man's regards to his own private interests. They were advised to abandon their camp at the first watch, carry off all their belongings, and disperse to their respective cities to protect their property behind their walls. This advice met with the warmest approval from all. Whilst the enemy were thus straggling homewards, the Romans as soon as it was light marched out and formed up in order of battle, and as there was no one to oppose, they went on at a quick march to the enemy's camp. Here they found no pickets before the gates or on the rampart, none of the noise which is customary in a camp, and fearing from the unusual silence that a surprise was being prepared they came to a halt. At length they climbed over the rampart and found everything deserted. Then they began to follow up the enemy's footsteps, but as these went in all directions alike, they found themselves going further and further astray. Subsequently they discovered through their scouts what the design of the enemy was, and their cities were successively attacked. Within a fortnight they had stormed and captured thirty-one walled towns. Most of these were sacked and burnt, and the nation of the Aequi was almost exterminated. A triumph was celebrated over them, and warned by their example the Marrucini, the Marsi, the Paeligni, and the Feretrani sent spokesmen to Rome to sue for peace and friendship. These tribes obtained a treaty with Rome.
[9.46]It was during this year that Cn. Flavius, the son of a freedman, born in a humble station of life, but a clever plausible man, became curule aedile. I find in some annalists the statement that at the time of the election of aediles he was acting as apparitor to the aediles, and when he found that the first vote was given in his favour, and was disallowed on the ground that he was a clerk, he laid aside his writing tablet and took an oath that he would not follow that profession. Licinius Macer, however, attempts to show that he had given up the clerk's business for some time as he had been a tribune of the plebs, and had also twice held office as a triumvir, the first time as a triumvir nocturnus, and afterwards as one of the three commissioners for settling a colony. However this may be, there is no question that he maintained a defiant attitude towards the nobles, who regarded his lowly origin with contempt. He made public the legal forms and processes which had been hidden away in the closets of the pontiffs; he exhibited a calendar written on whitened boards in the Forum, on which were marked the days on which legal proceedings were allowed; to the intense disgust of the nobility he dedicated the temple of Concord on the Vulcanal. At this function the Pontifex Maximus, Cornelius Barbatus, was compelled by the unanimous voice of the people to recite the usual form of devotion in spite of his insistence that in accordance with ancestral usage none but a consul or a commander-in-chief could dedicate a temple. It was in consequence of this that the senate authorised a measure to be submitted to the people providing that no one should presume to dedicate a temple or an altar without being ordered to do so by the senate or by a majority of the tribunes of the plebs.
I will relate an incident, trivial enough in itself, but affording a striking proof of the way in which the liberties of the plebs were asserted against the insolent presumption of the nobility. Flavius went to visit his colleague, who was ill. Several young nobles who were sitting in the room had agreed not to rise when he entered, on which he ordered his curule chair to be brought, and from that seat of dignity calmly surveyed his enemies, who were filled with unutterable disgust. The elevation of Flavius to the aedileship was, however, the work of a party in the Forum who had gained their power during the censorship of Appius Claudius. For Appius had been the first to pollute the senate by electing into it the sons of freedmen, and when no one recognised the validity of these elections and he failed to secure in the Senate-house the influence which he had sought to gain in the City, he corrupted both the Assembly of Tribes and the Assembly of Centuries by distributing the dregs of the populace amongst all the tribes. Such deep indignation was aroused by the election of Flavius that most of the nobles laid aside their gold rings and military decorations as a sign of mourning. From that time the citizens were divided into two parties; the uncorrupted part of the people, who favoured and supported men of integrity and patriotism, were aiming at one thing, the "mob of the Forum" were aiming at something else. This state of things lasted until Q. Fabius and P. Decius were made censors. Q. Fabius, for the sake of concord, and at the same time to prevent the elections from being controlled by the lowest of the populace, threw the whole of the citizens of the lowest class - the "mob of the Forum" - into four tribes and called them "the City Tribes." Out of gratitude for his action, it is said, he received an epithet which he had not gained by all his victories, but which was now conferred upon him for the wisdom he had shown in thus adjusting the orders in the State - the cognomen "Maximus." It is stated that he also instituted the annual parade of the cavalry on July 15.
End of Book 9
Copyright (c) 1996 by Bruce J. Butterfield.
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