Book 10: The Third Samnite War - (303 - 293 B.C.)
[10.1]During the consulship of L. Genucius and Ser. Cornelius there was almost a complete respite from foreign wars. Colonists were settled at Sora and Alba. The latter was in the country of the Aequi; 6000 colonists were settled there. Sora had been a Volscian town, but the Samnites had occupied it; 4000 men were sent there. The right of citizenship was conferred this year upon the Arpinates and the Trebulans. The Frusinates were mulcted in a third of their territory, for it had been ascertained that they were the instigators of the Hernican revolt. The senate decreed that the consuls should hold an inquiry, and the ringleaders were scourged and beheaded. However, in order that the Romans might not pass a whole year without any military operations, a small expeditionary force was sent into Umbria. A certain cave was reported to be the rendezvous of a body of freebooters, and from this hiding-place they made armed excursions into the surrounding country. The Roman troops entered this cave, and many of them were wounded, mostly by stones, owing to the darkness of the place. At length they discovered another entrance, for there was a passage right through the cave, and both mouths of the cavern were filled up with wood. This was set on fire, and, stifled by the smoke, the bandits, in trying to escape, rushed into the flames and 2000 perished. M. Livius Denter and M. Aurelius were the new consuls, and during their year of office hostilities were resumed by the Aequi. They resented the planting within their borders of a colony which was to be a stronghold of Roman power, and they made a desperate effort to capture it, but were beaten off by the colonists. In their weakened condition it seemed almost incredible that the Aequi could have begun war, relying solely upon themselves, and the fear of an indefinitely extended war necessitated the appointment of a Dictator. C. Junius Bubulcus was nominated, and he took the field, with M. Titinius as Master of the Horse. In the very first battle he crushed the Aequi, and a week later he returned in triumph to the City. Whilst Dictator he dedicated the temple of Salus which he had vowed as consul and the construction of which he had contracted for when censor.
[10.2]During the year a fleet of Greek ships under the command of the Lacedaemonian Cleonymus sailed to the shores of Italy and captured the city of Thuriae in the Sallentine country. The consul, Aemilius, was sent to meet this enemy, and in one battle he routed him and drove him to his ships. Thuriae was restored to its former inhabitants, and peace was established in the Sallentine territory. In some annalists I find it stated that the Dictator, Junius Bubulcus, was sent into that country, and that Cleonymus left Italy to avoid a conflict with the Romans. He sailed round the promontory of Brundisium, and was carried up the Adriatic, where he had on his left the harbourless shores of Italy and on his right the countries occupied by the Illyrians, the Liburnians, and the Histrians, savage tribes chiefly notorious for their acts of piracy. He dreaded the possibility of falling in with these, and consequently directed his course inland until he reached the coasts of the Veneti. Here he landed a small party to explore the neighbourhood. The information they brought back was to the effect that there was a narrow beach, and on crossing it they found lagoons which were affected by the tide; beyond these level cultivated country was visible, and in the further distance hills could be seen. At no great distance was the mouth of a river deep enough to allow of ships being brought up and safely anchored - this was the Meduacus. On hearing this he ordered the fleet to make for that river and sail up-stream. As the river channel did not admit the passage of his largest ships, the bulk of his troops went up in the lighter vessels and came to a populous district belonging to the maritime villages of the Patavii, who inhabit that coast. After leaving a few to guard the ships they landed, seized the villages, burnt the houses, and carried off the men and cattle as booty. Their eagerness for plunder led them too far from their ships. The people of Patavium were obliged to be always under arms owing to their neighbours, the Gauls, and when they heard what was going on, they divided their forces into two armies. One of these was to proceed to the district where the invaders were reported to be carrying on their depredations; the other was to go by a different route, to avoid meeting any of the plunderers, to where the ships were anchored, about fourteen miles from the town. The latter attacked the ships, and after killing those who resisted them, they compelled the terrified sailors to take their vessels over to the opposite bank. The other army had been equally successful against the plunderers, who in their flight to their ships were intercepted by the Veneti, and, hemmed in between the two armies, were cut to pieces. Some of the prisoners informed their captors that King Cleonymus, with his fleet, was only three miles distant. The prisoners were sent to the nearest village for safe-keeping, and some of the defenders got into their river boats, which were flat-bottomed to allow of their passing over the shallows in the lagoons, whilst others manned the vessels they had captured and sailed down the river. When they reached the Greek fleet they surrounded the large ships, which were afraid to stir and dreaded unknown waters more than the enemy, and pursued them to the mouth of the river. Some which in the confused fighting had run aground were captured and burnt. After this victory they returned. Failing to effect a successful landing in any part of the Adriatic, Cleonymus sailed away with barely a fifth part of his fleet undamaged. There are many still living who have seen the beaks of the ships and the spoils of the Lacedaemonians hung up in the old temple of Juno in Patavium, and the anniversary of that battle is celebrated by a sham fight of ships on the river which flows through the town.
[10.3]The Vestinians had requested to be placed on the footing of a friendly State, and a treaty was made with them this year. Subsequently several incidents created alarm in Rome. Intelligence was received of the renewal of hostilities by the Etruscans, owing to disturbances in Arretium. The powerful house of the Cilnii had created widespread jealousy through their enormous wealth, and an attempt was made to expel them from the city. The Marsi also were giving trouble, for a body of 4000 colonists had been sent to Carseoli, and they were prevented by force from occupying the place. In view of this threatening aspect of affairs, M. Valerius Maximus was nominated Dictator, and he named M. Aemilius Paulus Master of the Horse. I think that this is more probable than that Q. Fabius was made Master of the Horse and, therefore, in a subordinate position to Valerius, in spite of his age and the offices he had held; but I am quite prepared to admit that the error arose from the cognomen Maximus, common to both men. The Dictator took the field and routed the Marsi in one battle. After compelling them to seek shelter in their fortified cities, he took Milionia, Plestina, and Fresilia within a few days. The Marsi were compelled to surrender a portion of their territory, and then the old treaty with Rome was renewed. The war was now turned against the Etruscans, and an unfortunate incident occurred during this campaign. The Dictator had left the camp for Rome to take the auspices afresh, and the Master of the Horse had gone out to forage. He was surprised and surrounded, and after losing some standards and many of his men, he was driven in disgraceful flight back to his camp. Such a precipitate flight is contradictory to all that we know of Fabius; for it was his reputation as a soldier that more than anything else justified his epithet of Maximus, and he never forgot the severity of Papirius towards him, and could never have been tempted to fight without the Dictator's orders.
[10.4]The news of this defeat created a quite unnecessary alarm in Rome. Measures were adopted as though an army had been annihilated; all legal business was suspended, guards were stationed at the gates, watches were set in the different wards of the City, armour and weapons were stored in readiness on the walls, and every man within the military age was embodied. When the Dictator returned to the camp he found that, owing to the careful arrangements which the Master of the Horse had made, everything was quieter than he had expected. The camp had been moved back into a safer position; the cohorts who had lost their standards were punished by being stationed outside the rampart without any tents; the whole army was eager for battle that they might all the sooner wipe out the stain of their defeat. Under these circumstances the Dictator at once advanced his camp into the neighbourhood of Rusella. The enemy followed him, and although they felt the utmost confidence in a trial of strength in the open field, they decided to practice stratagem on their enemy, as they had found it so successful before. At no great distance from the Roman camp were some half-demolished houses belonging to a village which had been burnt when the land was harried. Some soldiers were concealed in these and cattle were driven past the place in full view of the Roman outposts, who were under the command of a staff-officer, Cnaeus Fulvius. As not a single man left his post to take the bait, one of the drovers, coming up close to the Roman lines, called out to the others who were driving the cattle somewhat slowly away from the ruined cottages to ask them why they were so slow, as they could drive them safely through the middle of the Roman camp. Some Caerites who were with Fulvius interpreted the words, and all the maniples were extremely indignant at the insult, but they did not dare to move without orders. He then instructed those who were familiar with the language to notice whether the speech of the herdsmen was more akin to that of rustics or to that of town-dwellers. On being told that the accent and personal appearance were too refined for cattle-drovers, he said, "Go and tell them to unmask the ambush they have tried in vain to conceal; the Romans know all, and can now no more be trapped by cunning than they can be vanquished by arms." When these words were carried to those who were lying concealed, they suddenly rose from their lurking-place and advanced in order of battle on to the open plain, which afforded a view in all directions. The advancing line appeared to Fulvius to be too large a body for his men to withstand, and he sent a hasty message to the Dictator to ask for help; in the meantime he met the attack single-handed.
[10.5]When the message reached the Dictator, he ordered the standards to go forward and the troops to follow. But everything was done almost more rapidly than the orders were given. The standards were instantly snatched up, and the troops were with difficulty prevented from charging the enemy at a run. They were burning to avenge their recent defeat, and the shouts, becoming continually louder in the battle that was already going on, made them still more excited. They kept urging each other on, and telling the standard-bearers to march more quickly, but the more haste the Dictator saw them making the more determined was he to check the column and insist upon their marching deliberately. The Etruscans had been present in their full strength when the battle began. Message after message was sent to the Dictator telling him that all the legions of the Etruscans were taking part in the fight and that his men could no longer hold out against them, whilst he himself from his higher ground saw for himself in what a critical position the outposts were. As, however, he felt quite confident that their commander could still sustain the attack, and as he was himself near enough to save him from all danger of defeat, he decided to wait until the enemy became utterly fatigued, and then to attack him with fresh troops. Although his own men were advancing so slowly there was now only a moderate distance over which to charge, at all events for cavalry, between the two lines. The standards of the legions were in front, to prevent the enemy from suspecting any sudden or secret maneuver, but the Dictator had left intervals in the ranks of infantry through which the cavalry could pass. The legions raised the battle-shout, and at the same moment the cavalry charged down upon the enemy, who were unprepared for such a hurricane, and a sudden panic set in. As the outposts, who had been all but cut off, were now relieved at the last moment, they were all allowed a respite from further exertions. The fresh troops took up the fighting, and the result did not long remain in doubt. The routed enemy sought their camp, and as they retreated before the Romans who were attacking it, they became crowded together in the furthest part. In trying to escape, they became blocked in the narrow gates, and a good many climbed on to the mound and stockade in the hope of defending themselves on higher ground, or possibly of crossing ramparts and fosse and so escaping. In one part the mound had been built up too loosely, and, owing to the weight of those standing on it, crumbled down into the fosse, and many, both soldiers and non-combatants, exclaiming that the gods had cleared the passage for their flight, made their escape that way. In this battle the power of the Etruscans was broken up for the second time. After undertaking to provide a year's pay for the army and a two months' supply of corn, they obtained permission from the Dictator to send envoys to Rome to sue for peace. A regular treaty of peace was refused, but they were granted a two years' truce. The Dictator returned in triumphal procession to the City. Some of my authorities aver that Etruria was pacified without any important battle being fought simply through the settlement of the troubles in Arretium and the restoration of the Cilnii to popular favour. No sooner had M. Valerius laid down the Dictatorship than he was elected consul. Some have thought that he was elected without having been a candidate and, therefore, in his absence, and that the election was conducted by an interrex. There is no question, however, that he held the consulship with Apuleius Pansa.
[10.6]During their year of office foreign affairs were fairly peaceful; the ill-success the Etruscans had met with in war and the terms of the truce kept the Etruscans quiet; the Samnites, after their many years of defeat and disaster, were so far quite satisfied with their recent treaty with Rome. In the City itself the large number of colonists sent out made the plebs less restless and lightened their financial burdens. But to prevent anything like universal tranquillity a conflict between the most prominent plebeians and the patricians was started by two of the tribunes of the plebs, Quintus and Cnaeus Ogulnius. These men had sought everywhere for an opportunity of traducing the patricians before the plebs, and after all other attempts had failed they adopted a policy which was calculated to inflame the minds, not of the dregs of the populace, but of the actual leaders of the plebs, men who had been consuls and enjoyed triumphs, and to whose official distinctions nothing was lacking but the priesthood. This was not yet open to both orders. The Ogulnii accordingly gave notice of a measure providing that as there were at that time four augurs and four pontiffs, and it had been decided that the number of priests should be augmented, the four additional pontiffs and five augurs should all be co-opted from the plebs. How the college of augurs could have been reduced to four, except by the death of two of their number, I am unable to discover. For it was a settled rule amongst the augurs that their number was bound to consist of threes, so that the three ancient tribes of the Ramnes, Titienses, and Luceres might each have their own augur, or if more were needed, the same number should be added for each. This was the principle on which they proceeded when by adding five to four the number was made up to nine, so that three were assigned to each tribe. But the co-optation of the additional priests from the plebs created almost as much indignation amongst the patricians as when they saw the consulship made open. They pretended that the matter concerned the gods more than it concerned them; as for their own sacred functions they would see for themselves that these were not polluted; they only hoped and prayed that no disaster might befall the republic. Their opposition, however, was not so keen, because they had become habituated to defeat in these political contests, and they saw that their opponents in striving for the highest honours were not, as formerly, aiming at what they had little hopes of winning; everything for which they had striven, though with doubtful hopes of success, they had hitherto gained - numberless consulships, censorships, triumphs.
[10.7]Appius Claudius and P. Decius are said to have been the leaders in this controversy, the former as the opponent, the latter as the supporter of the proposed measure. The arguments they advanced were practically the same as those employed for and against the Licinian Laws when the demand was made for the consulship to be thrown open to the plebeians. After going over much of the old ground, Decius made a final appeal on behalf of the proposals. He began by recalling the scene which many of those present had witnessed, when the elder Decius, his father, vested in the Gabine cincture and standing upon a spear, solemnly devoted himself on behalf of the legions and people of Rome. He proceeded, "The offering which the consul Decius made on that occasion was in the eyes of the immortal gods as pure and holy as that of his colleague, T. Manlius, would have been if he had devoted himself. Could not that Decius also have been fitly chosen to exercise priestly functions on behalf of the Roman people? And for me, are you afraid that the gods will not listen to my prayers as they do to those of Appius Claudius? Does he perform his private devotions with a purer mind or worship the gods in a more religious spirit than I do? Who has ever had occasion to regret the vows which have been made on behalf of the commonwealth by so many plebeian consuls, so many plebeian Dictators, when they were going to take command of their armies, or when they were actually engaged in battle? Count up the commanders in all the years since war was for the first time waged under the leadership and auspices of plebeians, you will find as many triumphs as commanders. The plebeians, too, have their nobility and have no cause to be dissatisfied with them. You may be quite certain that, if a war were suddenly to break out now, the senate and people of Rome would not put more confidence in a general because he was a patrician than in one who happened to be a plebeian. Now, if this is the case, who in heaven or earth could regard it as an indignity that the men whom you have honoured with curule chairs, with the toga praetexta, the tunica palmata, and the toga picta, with the triumphal crown and the laurel wreath, the men upon whose houses you have conferred special distinction by affixing to them the spoils taken from the enemy - that these men, I say, should have in addition to their other marks of rank the insignia of the pontiffs and the augurs? A triumphing general drives through the City in a gilded chariot, apparelled in the splendid vestments of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. After this he goes up to the Capitol; is he not to be seen there with capis and lituus? Is it to be regarded as an indignity, if he with veiled head slay a victim, or from his place on the citadel take an augury? And if in the inscription on his bust the words 'consulship,' 'censorship,' 'triumph' are read without arousing any indignation, in what mood will the reader regard the words which you are going to add, 'augurship' and 'pontificate'? I do indeed hope, please heaven, that, thanks to the good will of the Roman people, we now possess sufficient dignity to be capable of conferring as much honour on the priesthood as we shall receive. For the sake of the gods as much as for ourselves let us insist that as we worship them now as private individuals so we may worship them for the future as officials of the State.
[10.8]"But why have I so far been assuming that the question of the patricians and the priesthood is still an open one, and that we are not yet in possession of the highest of all offices? We see plebeians amongst the ten keepers of the Sacred Books, acting as interpreters of the Sibyl's runes and the Fates of this people; we see them, too, presiding over the sacrifices and other rites connected with Apollo. No injustice was inflicted on the patricians when an addition was made to the number of the keepers of the Sacred Books on the demand of the plebeians. None has been inflicted now, when a strong and capable tribune has created five more posts for augurs and four more for priests which are to be filled by plebeians, not, Appius, with the design of ousting you patricians from your places, but in order that the plebs may assist you in the conduct of divine matters as they do to the utmost of their power in the administration of human affairs. "Do not blush, Appius, to have as your colleague in the priesthood a man whom you might have had as colleague in the censorship or in the consulship, who might be Dictator with you as his Master of Horse, just as much as you might be Dictator with him for your Master of the Horse. A Sabine immigrant Attius Clausus, or if you prefer it, Appius Claudius, the founder of your noble house, was admitted by those old patricians into their number; do not think it beneath you to admit us into the number of the priests. We bring with us many distinctions, all those, in fact, which have made you so proud. L. Sextius was the first plebeian to be elected consul, C. Licinius Stolo was the first plebeian Master of the Horse, C. Marcius Rutilus the first plebeian who was both Dictator and censor, Q. Publilius Philo was the first praetor. We have always heard the same objection raised - that the auspices were solely in your hands, that you alone enjoy the privileges and prerogatives of noble birth, that you alone can legitimately hold sovereign command and take the auspices either in peace or war. Have you never heard the remark that it was not men sent down from heaven who were originally created patricians, but those who could cite a father, which is nothing more than saying that they were freeborn. I can now cite a consul as my father, and my son will be able to cite him as his grandfather. It simply comes to this, Quirites, that we can get nothing without a struggle. It is only a quarrel that the patricians are seeking, they do not care in the least about the result. I for my part support this measure, which I believe will be for your good and happiness and a blessing to the State, and I hold that you ought to pass it."
[10.9]The Assembly was on the point of ordering the voting to proceed, and it was evident that the measure would be adopted, when, on the intervention of some of the tribunes, all further business was adjourned for the day. On the morrow, the dissentient tribunes having given way, the law was passed amid great enthusiasm. The co-opted pontiffs were P. Decius Mus, the supporter of the measure, P. Sempronius Sophus, C. Marcius Rutilus, and M. Livius Denter. The five augurs who were also taken from the plebs were C. Genucius, P. Aelius Paetus, M. Minucius Faesus, C. Marcius, and T. Publilius. So the number of the pontiffs was raised to eight and that of the augurs to nine. In this year the consul, M. Valerius, carried a proposal to strengthen the provisions of the law touching the right of appeal. This was the third time since the expulsion of the kings that this law was re-enacted, and always by the same family. I think that the reason for renewing it so often was solely the fact that the excessive power exercised by a few men was dangerous to the liberties of the plebs. The Porcian law, however, seems to have been passed solely for the protection of the citizens in life and limb, for it imposed the severest penalties on any one who killed or scourged a Roman citizen. The Valerian law, it is true, forbade any one who had exercised his right of appeal to be scourged or beheaded, but if any one transgressed its provisions it added no penalty, but simply declared such transgression to be a "wicked act." Such was the self-respect and sense of shame amongst the men of those days, that I believe that declaration to have been a sufficiently strong barrier against violations of the law. Nowadays there is hardly a slave who would not use stronger language against his master.
Valerius also conducted a war against the Aequi, who had recommenced hostilities, but who retained nothing of their earlier character except their restless temper. The other consul, Apuleius, invested the town of Nequinum in Umbria. It was situated where Narnia now stands, on high ground which on one side was steep and precipitous, and it was impossible to take it either by assault or by regular siege works. It was left to the new consuls, M. Fulvius Paetus and T. Manlius Torquatus, to carry the siege to a successful issue. According to Licinius Macer and Tubero, all the centuries intended to elect Q. Fabius consul for this year, but he urged them to postpone his consulship until some more important war broke out, for he considered that he would be more useful to the State as a City magistrate. So without dissembling his real wishes or ostensibly seeking the post, he was elected curule aedile along with L. Papirius Cursor. I cannot, however, be certain on this point, for the earlier annalist, Piso, states that the curule aediles for this year were Cn. Domitius, Cn. F. Calvinus, Sp. Carvilius, and Q. F. Maximus. I think that the cognomen of the last-mentioned aedile - Maximus - was the cause of the error, and that a story in which the lists of both elections were combined was constructed to fit in with the mistake. The lustrum was closed this year by the censors, P. Sempronius Sophus and P. Sulpicius Saverrio, and two new tribes were added, the Aniensis and the Teretina. These were the principal events of the year in Rome.
[10.10]Meantime the siege of Nequinum was dragging slowly on and time was being wasted. At length two of the townsmen, whose houses abutted on the city wall, made a tunnel, and came by that secret passage to the Roman outposts. They were conducted to the consul, and undertook to admit a detachment of soldiers within the fortifications and the city walls. It did not seem right to reject their proposal, nor yet to accept it offhand. One of them was instructed to conduct two spies through the underground passage; the other was detained as a hostage. The report of the spies was satisfactory, and 300 soldiers, led by the deserter, entered the city by night and seized the nearest gate. This was broken open, and the consul with his army took possession of the place without any fighting. Thus Nequinum passed into the power of Rome. A colony was sent there as an outpost against the Umbrians, and the place was called Narnia from the river Nar. The army marched back to Rome with a large amount of spoil. This year the Etruscans determined to break the truce, and began to make preparations for war. But the invasion of their country by an enormous army of Gauls - the last thing they were expecting - turned them for a time from their purpose. Trusting to the power of money, which with them was very considerable, they endeavoured to convert the Gauls from enemies into allies in order that they might combine their forces in an attack on Rome. The barbarians did not object to an alliance, the only question was as to the amount of pay. After this had been agreed upon and all the other preparations for war had been completed, the Etruscans called upon the Gauls to follow them. They refused to do so, and asserted that they had not taken the money to make war on Rome. Whatever they had received had been accepted as compensation for not devastating the land of Etruria or subjecting its inhabitants to armed violence. However, they expressed their willingness to serve if the Etruscans really wished them to do so, but only on one condition, namely that they should be admitted to a share of their territory and be able to settle at last in a permanent home. Many councils were held in the various cantons to discuss this proposal, but it was found impossible to accept the terms, not so much because they would not consent to any loss of territory as because they dreaded the prospect of having as their neighbours men belonging to such a savage race. The Gauls were accordingly dismissed, and carried back with them an enormous sum of money gained without labour and without risk. The rumour of a Gaulish invasion in addition to the Etruscan war created alarm in Rome, and there was less hesitation in concluding a treaty with the Picentes.
[10.11]The campaign in Etruria fell to the consul T. Manlius. He had scarcely entered the hostile territory when, as he was wheeling his horse round in some cavalry exercises, he was flung off and almost killed on the spot. Three days later the consul ended his life. The Etruscans derived encouragement from this incident, for they took it as an omen, and declared that the gods were fighting for them. When the sad news reached Rome, not only was the loss of the man severely felt, but also the inopportuneness of the time when it occurred. The senate were prepared to order the nomination of a Dictator, but refrained from doing so as the election of a successor to the consul went quite in accordance with the wishes of the leading patricians. Every vote was given in favour of M. Valerius, the man whom the senate had decided upon as Dictator. The legions were at once ordered to Etruria. Their presence acted as such a check upon the Etruscans that no one ventured outside their lines; their fears shut them up as closely as though they were blockaded. Valerius devastated their fields and burnt their houses, till not only single farms but numerous villages were reduced to smoking ashes, but he failed to bring the enemy to action. While this war was progressing more slowly than had been anticipated, apprehensions were felt as to another war which, from the numerous defeats sustained formerly on both sides, was not unreasonably regarded with dread. The Picentes had sent information that the Samnites were arming for war, and that they had approached the Picentes to induce them to join them. The latter were thanked for their loyalty, and the public attention was diverted to a large extent from Etruria to Samnium. The dearness of provisions caused widespread distress amongst the citizens. Those writers who make Fabius Maximus a curule aedile for that year assert that there would have been actual famine if he had not shown the same wise care in the control of the market and the accumulation of supplies which he had so often before displayed in war. An interregnum occurred this year - tradition assigns no reason for it. The interreges were Ap. Claudius and P. Sulpicius. The latter held the consular elections, at which L. Cornelius Scipio and Cn. Fulvius were returned. At the beginning of their year a deputation came from the Lucanians to lay a formal complaint against the Samnites. They informed the senate that that people had tried to allure them into forming an offensive and defensive alliance with them, and, finding their efforts futile, they invaded their territory and were laying it waste, and so, by making war upon them, trying to drive them into a war with Rome. The Lucanians, they said, had made too many mistakes already; they had now quite made up their minds that it would be better to bear and suffer everything than to attempt anything against Rome. They implored the senate to take them under its protection and to defend them from the wanton aggressions of the Samnites. They were fully aware that if Rome declared war against Samnium their loyalty to her would be a matter of life and death, but, notwithstanding that, they were prepared to give hostages as a guarantee of good faith.
[10.12]The discussion in the senate was brief. The members unanimously decided that a treaty of close alliance should be made with the Lucanians and satisfaction demanded from the Samnites. When the envoys were readmitted, they received a favourable reply and a treaty was concluded with them. The fetials were sent to insist upon the evacuation by the Samnites of the territories of the allies of Rome and the withdrawal of their forces from the Lucanian frontiers. They were met by emissaries from the Samnites, who warned them that if they appeared in any of the Samnite councils their inviolability would be no longer respected. On this being reported in Rome, the Assembly confirmed the resolution passed by the senate and ordered war to be made upon the Samnites. In the allotment of their respective commands Etruria fell to Scipio and the Samnites to Fulvius. Both consuls took the field. Scipio, who was anticipating a tedious campaign similar to the one of the previous year, was met by the enemy in battle formation at Volaterrae. The contest lasted the greater part of the day, with heavy loss on both sides. Night came on whilst they were still uncertain with whom the victory lay; the following morning made it clear, for the Etruscans had abandoned their camp in the dead of the night. When the Romans marched out to battle and saw that the enemy had by their action admitted their defeat, they went on to the deserted camp. This they took possession of, and as it was a standing camp and had been hurriedly abandoned, they secured a considerable amount of booty. The troops were marched back into the neighbourhood of Falerii, and after leaving the baggage with a small escort there they proceeded, in light marching order, to harry the Etruscan land. Everything was laid waste with fire and sword; prey was driven in from all sides. Not only was the soil left an absolute waste for the enemy, but their fortified posts and villages were burnt. The Romans refrained from attacking the cities in which the terrified Etruscans had sought shelter. Cnaeus Fulvius fought a brilliant action at Bovianum in Samnium, and gained a decisive victory. He then carried Bovianum by storm, and not long afterwards Aufidena.
[10.13]During the year a colony was settled at Carseoli, in the country of the Aequicoli. The consul Fulvius celebrated a triumph over the Samnites. Just as the consular elections were coming on, a rumour spread that the Etruscans and Samnites were levying immense armies. According to the reports which were sent, the leaders of the Etruscans were attacked in all the cantonal council meetings for not having brought the Gauls over on any terms whatever to take part in the war; the Samnite government were abused for having employed against the Romans a force which was only raised to act against the Lucanians; the enemy was arising in his own strength and in that of his allies to make war on Rome, and matters would not be settled without a conflict on a very much larger scale than formerly. Men of distinction were amongst the candidates for the consulship, but the gravity of the danger turned all eyes to Quintus Fabius Maximus. He at first simply declined to become a candidate, but when he saw the trend of popular feeling he distinctly refused to allow his name to stand: "Why," he asked, "do you want an old man like me, who has finished his allotted tasks and gained all the rewards they have brought? I am not the man I was either in strength of body or mind, and I fear lest some god should even deem my good fortune too great or too unbroken for human nature to enjoy. I have grown up to the measure of the glory of my seniors, and I would gladly see others rising to the height of my own renown. There is no lack of honours in Rome for the strongest and most capable men, nor is there any lack of men to win the honour." This display of modesty and unselfishness only made the popular feeling all the keener in his favour by showing how rightly it was directed. Thinking that the best way of checking it would be to appeal to the instinctive reverence for law, he ordered the law to be rehearsed which forbade any man from being re-elected consul within ten years. Owing to the clamour the law was hardly heard, and the tribunes of the plebs declared that there was no impediment here; they would make a proposition to the Assembly that he should be exempt from its provisions. He, however, persisted in his refusal, and repeatedly asked what was the object in making laws if they were deliberately broken by those who made them; "we," said he, "are now ruling the laws instead of the laws ruling us." Notwithstanding his opposition the people began to vote, and as each century was called in, it declared without the slightest hesitation for Fabius. At last, yielding to the general desire of his countrymen, he said, "May the gods approve what you have done and what you are going to do. Since, however, you are going to have your own way as far as I am concerned, give me the opportunity of using my influence with you so far as my colleague is concerned. I ask you to elect as my fellow-consul, P. Decius, a man whom I have found to work with me in perfect harmony, a man who is worthy of your confidence, worthy of his illustrious sire." The recommendation was felt to be well deserved, and all the centuries which had not yet voted elected Q. Fabius and P. Decius consuls. During the year a large number of people were prosecuted by the aediles for occupying more than the legal quantity of land. Hardly one could clear himself from the charge, and a very strong curb was placed upon inordinate covetousness.
[10.14]The consuls were busy with their arrangements for the campaign, deciding which of them should deal with the Etruscans, and which with the Samnites, what troops they would each require, which field of operations each was best fitted for, when envoys arrived from Sutrium, Nepete, and Falerii bringing definite information that the local assemblies of Etruria were being convened to decide upon a peace policy. On the strength of this information the whole weight of war was turned against the Samnites. In order to facilitate the transport of supplies, and also to make the enemy more uncertain as to the line of the Roman advance, Fabius led his legions by way of Sora, while Decius proceeded through the Sidicine district. When they had crossed the frontiers of Samnium they marched on a widely extended front, laying the country waste as they went on. They threw out their scouting parties still more widely, and so did not fail to discover the enemy near Tifernum. They had concealed themselves in a secluded valley, prepared to attack the Romans, should they enter the valley, from the rising ground on each side. Fabius removed the baggage into a safe place and left a small guard over it. He then informed his men that a battle was impending, and massing them into a solid square came up to the above-mentioned hiding-place of the enemy. The Samnites, finding all chance of a surprise hopeless, since matters would have to be decided by an action in the open, thought it better to meet their foes in a pitched battle. Accordingly they came down to the lower ground, and placed themselves in the hands of Fortune with more of courage than of hope. But whether it was that they had got together the whole strength out of every community in Samnium, or that their courage was stimulated by the thought that their very existence as a nation depended upon this battle, they certainly did succeed in creating a good deal of alarm in the Roman ranks, even though they were fighting in a fair field. When Fabius saw that the enemy were holding their ground in every part of the field, he rode up to the first line with his son, Maximus, and Marcus Valerius, both military tribunes, and ordered them to go to the cavalry and tell them that if they remembered any single occasion on which the republic had been aided by the efforts of the cavalry, they should that day strive their utmost to sustain the reputation of that invincible arm of the State, for the enemy were standing immovable against the infantry and all their hopes rested on the cavalry. He made a personal appeal to each of them, showering commendations upon them and holding out the prospect of great rewards. Since, however, the cavalry charge might fail in its object, and attacking in force prove useless, he thought he ought to adopt a stratagem. Scipio, one of his staff, received instructions to draw off the hastati of the first legion and, attracting as little observation as possible, take them to the nearest hills. Then climbing up where they could not be seen, they were suddenly to show themselves in the enemy's rear.
The cavalry, led by the two young tribunes, dashed out in front of the standards, and their sudden appearance created almost as much confusion amongst their own people as amongst the enemy. The Samnite line stood perfectly firm against the galloping squadrons, nowhere could they be forced back or broken. Finding their attempt a failure, the cavalry retired behind the standards and took no further part in the fighting. This increased the courage of the enemy, and the Roman front could not have sustained the prolonged contest, met as they were by a resistance which was becoming more stubborn as its confidence rose, had not the consul ordered the second line to relieve the first. These fresh troops checked the advance of the Samnites, who were now pressing forward. Just at this moment the standards were descried on the hills, and a fresh battle-shout arose from the Roman ranks. The alarm which was created among the Samnites was greater than circumstances warranted, for Fabius exclaimed that his colleague Decius was coming, and every soldier, wild with joy, took up the cry and shouted that the other consul with his legions was at hand. This mistake occurring so opportunely filled the Samnites with dismay; they dreaded, exhausted as they were by fighting, the prospect of being overwhelmed by a second army, fresh and unhurt. Unable to offer any further resistance they broke and fled, and owing to their scattered flight, the bloodshed was small when compared with the greatness of the victory; 3400 were killed, about 830 made prisoners, and 23 standards were captured.
[10.15]Before this battle took place the Samnites would have been joined by the Apulians had not the consul Decius anticipated their action by fixing his camp at Maleventum. He drew them into an engagement and routed them, and in this battle also there were more who escaped by flight than were slain; these amounted to 2000. Without troubling himself further about the Apulians, Decius led his army into Samnium. There the two consular armies spent five months in ravaging and desolating the country. There were forty-five different places in Samnium where Decius at one time or another had fixed his camp; in the case of the other consul there were eighty-six. Nor were the only traces left those of ramparts and fosses, more conspicuous still were those which attested the devastation and depopulation of all the country round. Fabius also captured the city of Cimetra, where 2900 became prisoners of war, 830 having been killed during the assault. After this he returned to Rome for the elections and arranged for them to be held at an early date. The centuries who voted first declared without exception for Fabius. Amongst the candidates was the energetic and ambitious Appius Claudius. Anxious to secure the honour for himself, he was quite as anxious that both posts should be held by patricians, and he brought his utmost influence, supported by the whole of the nobility, to bear upon the electors so that they might return him together with Fabius. At the outset Fabius refused, and alleged the same grounds for his refusal as he had alleged the year before. Then all the nobles crowded round his chair and begged him to extricate the consulship from the plebeian mire and restore both to the office itself and to the patrician houses the august dignity which they possessed of old. As soon as he could obtain silence he addressed them in terms which calmed their excitement. He would, he said, have arranged to admit votes for two patricians if he saw that any one else than himself was being elected, but as matters were he would not allow his name to stand, since it would be against the law and form a most dangerous precedent. So L. Volumnius, a plebeian, was elected together with Appius Claudius; they had already been associated in a previous consulship. The nobles taunted Fabius and said that he refused to have Appius Claudius as a colleague because he was unquestionably his inferior in eloquence and state-craft.
[10.16]When the elections were over, the previous consuls received a six months' extension of their command and were ordered to prosecute the war in Samnium. P. Decius, who had been left by his colleague in Samnium and was now proconsul, continued his ravages of the Samnite fields until he had driven their army, which nowhere ventured to encounter him, outside their frontiers. They made for Etruria, and were in hopes that the object which they had failed to secure by their numerous deputations might be achieved now that they had a strong force and could back up their appeals by intimidation. They insisted upon a meeting of the Etruscan chiefs being convened. When it had assembled they pointed out how for many years they had been fighting with the Romans, how they had tried in every possible way to sustain the weight of that war in their own strength, and how they had proved the assistance of their neighbours to be of small value. They had sued for peace because they could no longer endure war, they had taken to war again because a peace which reduced them to slavery was heavier to bear than a war in which they could fight as free men. The only hope left to them now lay in the Etruscans. They knew that they of all the nations of Italy were the richest in arms and men and money, and they had for their neighbours the Gauls, trained to arms from the cradle, naturally courageous to desperation and especially against the Romans, a nation whom they justly boast of having captured and then allowing them to ransom themselves with gold. If the Etruscans had the same spirit which Porsena and their ancestors once had there was no reason why they should not expel the Romans from the whole of their land as far as the Tiber and compel them to fight, not for their insupportable dominion over Italy, but for their very existence. The Samnite army had come to them completely provided with arms and a war chest, and were ready to follow them at once, even if they led them to an attack on Rome itself.
[10.17]While they were thus busy with their intrigues in Etruria the warfare which the Romans were carrying on in Samnium was terribly destructive. When P. Decius had ascertained through his scouts the departure of the Samnite army he summoned a council of war. "Why," he asked, "are we foaming through the country districts, making war only upon the villages? Why are we not attacking the walled cities? There is no army to defend them, the army has abandoned its country and gone into voluntary exile." His proposal was unanimously adopted and he led them to the attack of Murgantia, a powerfully fortified city. Such was the eagerness of the soldiers, due partly to the affection they felt for their commander and partly to the expectation of a larger amount of plunder than they were securing in the country districts, that they stormed and captured the city in a single day. Two thousand one hundred combatants were cut off and made prisoners and an enormous quantity of plunder was seized. To avoid loading the army with a lot of heavy baggage Decius called his men together and addressed them thus: "Are you going to content yourselves with this one victory and this spoil? Raise your hopes and expectations to the height of your courage. All the cities of the Samnites and all the wealth left in them are yours now that their legions, routed in so many battles, have at last been driven by you beyond their frontiers. Sell what you now hold and attract traders by the hope of profit to follow our armies; I shall frequently supply you with things for sale. Let us go on to the city of Romulea where still greater spoil awaits you but not greater exertions."
The booty was then sold and the men, urging on their commander, marched to Romulea. Here, too, no siege works were constructed, no artillery employed, the moment the standards were brought up to the walls no resistance on the part of the defenders could keep the men back; they planted their scaling-ladders just where they happened to be, and swarmed on to the walls. The town was taken and sacked, 2300 were killed, 6000 taken prisoners, and a vast amount of plunder secured, which the troops, as before, were obliged to dispose of to the traders. The next place to be attacked was Ferentinum, and though no rest was allowed the men, they marched thither in the highest spirits. Here, however, they had more trouble and more risk. The position had been made as strong as possible by nature and by art, and the walls were defended with the utmost energy, but a soldiery habituated to plunder overcame all obstacles. As many as 3000 of the enemy were killed round the walls; the plunder was given to the troops. In some annalists the greater part of the credit of these captures is given to Maximus; Decius they say took Murgantia, Ferentinum and Romulea being captured by Fabius. Some again claim this honour for the new consuls, while a few restrict it to L. Volumnius, to whom they say Samnium was assigned as his sphere of action.
[10.18]Whilst this campaign was going on in Samnium - whoever may have been the commander - a very serious war against Rome was being organised in Etruria, in which many nations were to take part. The chief organiser was Gellius Egnatius, a Samnite. Almost all the Tuscan cantons had decided on war, the contagion had infected the nearest cantons in Umbria, and the Gauls were being solicited to help as mercenaries. All these, were concentrating at the Samnite camp. When the news of this sudden rising reached Rome, L. Volumnius had already left for Samnium with the second and third legions and 15,000 allied troops; it was therefore decided that Appius Claudius should at the earliest possible moment enter Etruria. Two Roman legions followed him, the first and fourth, and 12,000 allies. He fixed his camp not far from the enemy. The advantage gained by his prompt arrival did not, however, show itself in any wise or fortunate generalship on his part so much as the check imposed by the fear of Rome upon some of the Etrurian cantons which were meditating war. Several engagements took place in unfavourable positions and at unfortunate times, and the more the enemy's hopes of success, the more formidable he became. Matters almost reached the point when the soldiers distrusted their general and the general had no confidence in his soldiers. I find it stated by some annalists that he sent a letter to his colleague summoning him from Samnium, but I cannot assert this as a fact since this very circumstance became a subject of dispute between the two consuls, who were now in office together for the second time; Appius denying that he had sent any letter and Volumnius insisting that he had been summoned by a letter from Appius.
Volumnius had by this time taken three fortified posts in Samnium in which as many as 3000 men were killed and almost half that number made prisoners. He had also sent Q. Fabius, the proconsul, with his veteran army, much to the satisfaction of the Lucanian magnates, to repress the disturbances which had been got up in that part of the country by the plebeian and indigent classes. Leaving the ravaging of the enemy's fields to Decius he proceeded with his whole force to Etruria. On his arrival he was universally welcomed. As to the way Appius treated him, I think that if he had a clear conscience in the matter, that is, if he had written nothing, his anger was justifiable, but if he had really stood in need of help he showed a disingenuous and ungrateful spirit in concealing the fact. When he went out to meet his colleague, almost before they had had time to exchange mutual greetings, he asked: "Is all well, Volumnius? How are things going in Samnium? What induced you to leave your allotted province?" Volumnius replied that all was going on satisfactorily and that he had come because he had been asked to do so by letter. If it was a forgery and there was nothing for him to do in Etruria he would at once countermarch his troops and depart. "Well then," said Appius, "go, let nobody keep you here, for it is by no means right that whilst perhaps you are hardly able to cope with your own war you should boast of having come to the assistance of others." "May Hercules guide all for the best," replied Volumnius. "I would rather have taken all this trouble in vain than that anything should happen which would make one consular army insufficient for Etruria."
[10.19]As the consuls were parting from each other, the staff-officers and military tribunes stood round them; some of them implored their own commander not to reject the assistance of his colleague, assistance which he himself ought to have invited and which was now spontaneously offered; many of the others tried to stop Volumnius as he was leaving and appealed to him not to betray the safety of the republic through a wretched quarrel with his colleague. They urged that if any disaster occurred the responsibility for it would fall on the one who abandoned the other, not on the other who was abandoned; it came to this - all the glory of success and all the disgrace of failure in Etruria was transferred to Volumnius. People would not inquire what words Appius had used, but what fortune the army was meeting with; he may have been dismissed by Appius, but his presence was demanded by the republic and by the army. He had only to test the feelings of the soldiers to find this out for himself. Amidst appeals and warnings of this character they almost dragged the reluctant consuls into a council of war. There the dispute which had previously been witnessed by only a few went on at much greater length. Volumnius had not only the stronger case, but he showed himself by no means a bad speaker, even when compared with the exceptional eloquence of his colleague. Appius remarked sarcastically that they ought to look upon it as due to him that they had a consul who was actually able to speak, instead of the dumb inarticulate man he once was. In their former consulship, especially during the first months of office, he could not open his lips, now he was becoming quite a popular speaker. Volumnius observed, "I would much rather that you had learnt from me to act with vigour and decision than that I should have learnt from you to be a clever speaker." He finally made a proposal which would settle the question who was - not the better orator, for that was not what the republic needed, but - the better commander. Their two provinces were Etruria and Samnium; Appius might choose which he preferred, he, Volumnius, was willing to conduct operations either in Etruria or in Samnium. On this the soldiers began to clamour; they insisted that both consuls should carry on the war in Etruria. When Volumnius saw that this was the general wish he said, "Since I have made a mistake in interpreting my colleague's wishes I will take care that there shall be no doubt as to what it is that you want. Signify your wishes by acclamation; do you wish me to stay or to go? "Such a shout arose in reply that it brought the enemy out of their camp; seizing their arms they came down to the battlefield. Then Volumnius ordered the battle signal to be sounded and the standards to be carried out of the camp. Appius, it is said, was for some time undecided, as he saw that whether he fought or remained inactive the victory would be his colleague's, but at last, fearing lest his legions also should follow Volumnius, he yielded to their loud demands and gave the signal for battle.
On both sides the dispositions were far from complete. The Samnite captain-general, Gellius Egnatius, had gone off with a few cohorts on a foraging expedition, and his troops commenced the battle in obedience to their own impulses rather than to any word of command. The Roman armies again were not both led to the attack at the same time, nor was sufficient time allowed for their formation. Volumnius was engaged before Appius reached the enemy, so the battle began on an irregular front, and the usual opponents happened to be interchanged, the Etruscans facing Volumnius and the Samnites, after a short delay owing to their leader's absence, closing with Appius. The story runs that he lifted up his hands to heaven so as to be visible to those about the foremost standards and uttered this prayer: "Bellona! if thou wilt grant us victory today, I, in return, vow a temple to thee." After this prayer it seemed as though the goddess had inspired him, he displayed a courage equal to his colleague's, or indeed to that of the whole army. Nothing was lacking on the part of the generals to ensure success, and the rank and file in each of the consular armies did their utmost to prevent the other from being the first to achieve victory. The enemy were quite unable to withstand a force so much greater than any they had been accustomed to meet, and were in consequence routed and put to flight. The Romans pressed the attack when they began to give ground, and when they broke and fled, followed them up till they had driven them to their camp. There the appearance of Gellius and his cohorts led to a brief stand being made; soon, however, these were routed and the victors attacked the camp. Volumnius encouraging his men by his own example led the attack upon one of the gates in person, whilst Appius was kindling the courage of his troops by repeatedly invoking "Bellona the victorious." They succeeded in forcing their way through rampart and fosse; the camp was captured and plundered, and a very considerable amount of booty was discovered and given to the soldiery; 6900 of the enemy were killed, 2120 made prisoners.
[10.20]Whilst both the consuls with the whole strength of Rome were devoting their energies more and more to the Etruscan war, fresh armies were raised in Samnium for the purpose of ravaging the territories which belonged to the feudatories of Rome. They passed through the Vescini into the country round Capua and Falernum and secured immense spoil. Volumnius was returning to Samnium by forced marches, for the extended command of Fabius and Decius had almost expired, when he heard of the devastations which the Samnites were committing in Campania. He at once diverted his route in that direction to protect our allies. When he was in the neighbourhood of Cales he saw for himself the fresh traces of the destruction that had been wrought, and the inhabitants informed him that the enemy were carrying off so much plunder that they could hardly keep any proper formation on the march. In fact their generals had openly given out that they dared not expose an army so heavily laden to the chances of battle, and they must at once return to Samnium and leave their plunder there, after which they would return for a fresh raid. However true all this might be, Volumnius thought he ought to get further information, and accordingly he despatched some cavalry to pick up any stragglers they might find among the raiders. On questioning them he learnt that the enemy were halted at the river Volturnus, and were going to move forward at the third watch and take the road to Samnium. Satisfied with this information he marched on and fixed his camp at such a distance from the enemy that while it was not close enough for his arrival to be detected it was sufficiently near to allow of his surprising them while they were leaving their camp. Some time before daylight he approached their camp and sent some men familiar with the Oscan language to find out what was going on. Mingling with the enemy, an easy matter in the confusion of a nocturnal departure, they found that the standards had already gone with only a few to defend them, the booty and those who were to escort it were just leaving, the army as a whole were incapable of any military evolution, for each was looking after his own affairs, without any mutually arranged plan of action or any definite orders from their commander. This seemed the moment for delivering his attack, and daylight was approaching, so he ordered the advance to be sounded and attacked the enemy's column. The Samnites were encumbered with their booty, only a few were in fighting trim; some hurried on and drove before them the animals they had seized, others halted, undecided whether to go on or retreat to the camp; in the midst of their hesitation they were surrounded and cut off. The Romans had now got over the rampart, and the camp became a scene of wild disorder and carnage. The confusion created in the Samnite column by the swiftness of the attack was increased by the sudden outbreak of their prisoners. Some after releasing themselves broke the fetters of those round them, others snatched the weapons which were fastened up with the baggage and created in the centre of the column a tumult more appalling even than the battle which was going on. Then they achieved a most extraordinary feat. Statius Minacius, the general commanding, was riding up and down the ranks encouraging his men, when the prisoners attacked him, and after dispersing his escort, hurried him off, whilst still in the saddle, as a prisoner to the Roman consul. The noise and the tumult recalled the cohorts who were at the head of the column, and the battle was resumed, but only for a short time, as a long resistance was impossible. As many as 6000 men were killed, there were 2500 prisoners, amongst them four military tribunes, thirty standards were taken, and, what gave the victors more pleasure than anything else, 7400 captives were rescued and the immense booty which had been taken from the allies recovered. Public notice was given inviting the owners to identify and recover what belonged to them. Everything for which no owner appeared on the appointed day was given to the soldiers, but they were obliged to sell it all that nothing might distract their thoughts from their military duties.
[10.21]This predatory incursion into Campania created great excitement in Rome, and it so happened that just at this time grave news was received from Etruria. After the withdrawal of Volumnius' army, the whole country, acting in concert with the Samnite captain-general, Gellius Egnatius, had risen in arms; whilst the Umbrians were being called on to join the movement, and the Gauls were being approached with offers of lavish pay. The senate, thoroughly alarmed at these tidings, ordered all legal and other business to be suspended, and men of all ages and of every class to be enrolled for service. Not only were the freeborn and all within the military age obliged to take the oath, but cohorts were formed of the older men, and even the freedmen were formed into centuries. Arrangements were made for the defence of the City, and P. Sempronius took supreme command. The senate was, however, relieved of some of its anxiety by the receipt of despatches from L. Volumnius, from which it was ascertained that the raiders of Campania had been routed and killed. Thanksgivings for this success were ordered in honour of the consul, the suspension of business was withdrawn after lasting eighteen days, and the thanksgivings were of a most joyous character. The next question was the protection of the district which had been devastated by the Samnites, and it was decided to settle bodies of colonists about the Vescinian and Falernian country. One was to be at the mouth of the Liris, now called the colony of Menturna, the other in the Vescinian forest where it is contiguous with the territory of Falernum. Here the Greek city of Sinope is said to have stood, and from this the Romans gave the place the name of Sinuessa. It was arranged that the tribunes of the plebs should get a plebiscite passed requiring P. Sempronius, the praetor, to appoint commissioners for the founding of colonies in those spots. But it was not easy to find people to be sent to what was practically a permanent outpost in a dangerously hostile country, instead of having fields allotted to them for cultivation. The attention of the senate was diverted from these matters to the growing seriousness of the outlook in Etruria. There were frequent despatches from Appius warning them not to neglect the movement that was going on in that part of the world; four nations were in arms together, the Etruscans, the Samnites, the Umbrians, and the Gauls, and they were compelled to form two separate camps, for one place would not hold so great a multitude. The date of the elections was approaching, and Volumnius was recalled to Rome to conduct them, and also to advise on the general policy. Before calling upon the centuries to vote he summoned the people to an Assembly. Here he dwelt at some length upon the serious nature of the war in Etruria. Even, he said, when he and his colleague were conducting a joint campaign, the war was on too large a scale for any single general with his one army to cope with. Since then he understood that the Umbrians and an enormous force of Gauls had swollen the ranks of their enemies. The electors must bear in mind that two consuls were being elected on that day to act against four nations. The choice of the Roman people would, he felt certain, fall on the one man who was unquestionably the foremost of all their generals. Had he not felt sure of this he was prepared to nominate him at once as Dictator.
[10.22]After this speech no one felt the slightest doubt that Q. Fabius would be unanimously elected. The "prerogative" centuries and all those of the first class were voting for him and Volumnius, when he again addressed the electors very much in the terms he had employed two years before, and as on the former occasion when he yielded to the universal wish, so now he again requested that P. Decius might be his colleague. He would be a support for his old age to lean upon, they had been together as censors, and twice as consuls, and he had learnt by experience that nothing went further to protect the State than harmony between colleagues. He felt that he could hardly at his time of life get accustomed to a new comrade in office, he could so much more easily share all his counsels with one whose character and disposition he knew. Volumnius confirmed what Fabius had said. He bestowed a well-deserved encomium on Decius, and pointed out what an advantage in military operations is gained by harmony between the consuls, and what mischief is wrought when they are at variance. He mentioned as an instance the recent misunderstanding between him and his colleague which almost led to a national disaster, and he solemnly admonished Decius and Fabius that they should live together with one mind and one heart. They were, he continued, born commanders, great in action, unskilled in wordy debate, possessing, in fact, all the qualifications of a consul. Those, on the other hand, who were clever and cunning in law, and practiced pleaders, like Appius Claudius, ought to be employed in the City and on the bench; they should be elected praetors to administer justice. The discussion in the Assembly lasted the whole day. On the morrow the elections were held for both consuls and praetors. The consul's recommendation was acted upon; Q. Fabius and P. Decius were elected consuls, and Appius Claudius was returned as praetor; they were all elected in their absence. The senate passed a resolution, which the Assembly confirmed by a plebiscite, that Volumnius' command should be extended for a year.
[10.23]Several portents occurred this year and, with the view of averting them, the senate passed a decree that special intercessions should be offered for two days. The wine and incense were provided at the public cost, and both men and women attended the religious functions in great numbers. This time of special observance was rendered memorable by a quarrel which broke out amongst the matrons in the chapel of the Patrician Pudicitia, which is in the Forum Boarium, against the round temple of Hercules. Verginia, the daughter of Aulus Verginius, a patrician, had married the plebeian consul, L. Volumnius, and the matrons excluded her from their sacred rites because she had married outside the patriciate. This led to a brief altercation, which, as the women became excited, soon blazed up into a storm of passion. Verginia protested with perfect truth that she entered the temple of Pudicitia as a patrician and a pure woman, the wife of one man to whom she had been betrothed as a virgin, and she had nothing to be ashamed of in her husband or in his honourable career and the offices which he had held. The effect of her high-spirited language was considerably enhanced by her subsequent action. In the Vicus Longus, where she lived, she shut off a portion of her house, sufficient to form a moderately sized chapel, and set up an altar there. She then called the plebeian matrons together and told them how unjustly she had been treated by the patrician ladies. "I am dedicating," she said, "this altar to the Plebeian Pudicitia, and I earnestly exhort you as matrons to show the same spirit of emulation on the score of chastity that the men of this City display with regard to courage, so that this altar may, if possible, have the reputation of being honoured with a holier observance and by purer worshippers than that of the patricians." The ritual and ceremonial practiced at this altar was almost identical with that at the older one; no matron was allowed to sacrifice there whose moral character was not well attested, and who had had more than one husband. Afterwards it was polluted by the presence of women of every kind, not matrons only, and finally passed into oblivion. The curule aediles, Cnaeus and Quintus Ogulnius, brought up several money-lenders for trial this year. The proportion of their fines which was paid into the treasury was devoted to various public objects; the wooden thresholds of the Capitol were replaced by bronze, silver vessels were made for the three tables in the shrine of Jupiter, and a statue of the god himself, seated in a four-horsed chariot, was set up on the roof. They also placed near the Ficus Ruminalis a group representing the Founders of the City as infants being suckled by the she-wolf. The street leading from the Porta Capena to the temple of Mars was paved, under their instructions, with stone slabs. Some graziers were also prosecuted for exceeding the number of cattle allowed them on the public land, and the plebeian aediles, L. Aelius Paetus and C. Fulvius Curvus, spent the money derived from their fines on public games and a set of golden bowls to be placed in the temple of Ceres.
[10.24]Q. Fabius and P. Decius were now entering their year of office, the former being consul for the fifth time, the latter for the fourth. Twice before they had been consuls together, they had held the censorship together and the perfect unanimity between them, quite as much as their discharge of its duties, made their tenure of office a distinguished one. But this was not to last for ever; the conflict which broke out between them was, however, I think, due more to the antagonism of the two orders to which they belonged than to any personal feeling on their part. The patrician senators were extremely anxious that Fabius should have Etruria assigned to him without going through the usual procedure; the plebeian senators urged Decius to insist upon the question being settled in the usual way by lot. There was, at all events, a sharp division of opinion in the senate, and, when it became apparent that the Fabian interest was the stronger, the matter was referred to the people. As both were first of all soldiers, trusting more to deeds than to words, their speeches before the Assembly were brief. Fabius declared that it would be an unworthy proceeding if another should gather up the fruit beneath the tree which he had planted; he had opened up the Ciminian forest and made a way through pathless jungle for the arms of Rome. Why had they troubled him at his time of life, if they were going to carry on the war under another general? Then he turned to Decius: "Surely," he said, "I have chosen an opponent, not a comrade, in office; Decius is annoyed at our three years of joint power having been so harmonious." Finally, he asserted that he desired nothing more than that if they thought him worthy of that command, they should send him there; he had bowed to the will of the senate and should accept the decision of the people.
P. Decius, in reply, protested against the injustice of the senate. The patricians, he said, had done their utmost to exclude the plebeians from the great offices of the State. Since personal merit had so far won the day that it no longer failed of recognition in any class of men, their object was now not only to stultify the deliberate decisions of the people as expressed by their votes, but even to turn the judgments which Fortune is ever passing into so many reasons for retaining their power, small as their number was. All the consuls before his time had drawn lots for their commands, now the senate was giving Fabius his province independently of the lot. If this was simply as a mark of honour, then he would admit that Fabius had rendered services both to the republic and to himself and he would gladly consent to anything that would add to his reputation, provided it did not involve casting a slur upon himself. But who could fail to see that when a peculiarly difficult and formidable war is entrusted to one consul without any resort to the lot, it means that the other consul is regarded as superfluous and useless? Fabius pointed with pride to his achievements in Etruria; Decius wished to be able to do so too, and possibly he might succeed in totally extinguishing the fire which the other had only smothered, and smothered in such a way that it was constantly breaking out where one least expected in fresh conflagrations. He was prepared to concede honours and rewards to his colleague out of respect to his age and position, but when it was a question of danger or of fighting he did not give way, and would not voluntarily. If he gained nothing else from this dispute, he would at least gain this much, that the people should decide a question which was theirs to decide, rather than that the senate should show undue partiality. He prayed Jupiter Optimus Maximus and the immortal gods to grant to him the impartial chance of the lot with his colleague, if they were going to grant them each the same courage and good fortune in the conduct of the war. It was, at all events, a thing eminently fair in itself, and an excellent precedent for all time, and a thing which touched the good name of Rome very closely, that both the consuls should be men by either of whom the Etruscan war could be conducted without any risk of failure. Fabius' only reply was to entreat the people to listen to some despatches which had been sent by Appius before they proceeded to vote. He then left the Assembly. The people were no less strong in his support than the senate had been, and Etruria was decreed to Fabius without any casting of lots.
[10.25]When this decision was come to, all the men of military age flocked to the consul, and every one began to give in his name, so eager were they to serve under him as their general. Seeing himself surrounded by this crowd, he called out: "I do not intend to enlist more than 4000 infantry and 600 cavalry, and will take with me those of you who give in your names today and tomorrow. I am more concerned to bring you all back wealthy men than to have a large number of men for my fighting force." With this compact army full of confidence and hope - all the more so because he felt no need of a great host - he marched to the town of Aharna, which was not far from the enemy, and from there went on to Appius' camp. He was still some miles distant from it when he was met by some soldiers sent to cut wood who were accompanied by an armed escort. When they saw the lictors marching in front of him, and heard that it was Fabius their consul, they were overjoyed and thanked the gods and the people of Rome for having sent him to them as their commander. As they pressed round the consul to salute him, Fabius asked them where they were going, and on their replying that they were going to cut wood, "What do you say?" he inquired; "surely you have a ramparted camp?" They informed him that they had a double rampart and fosse round the camp, and yet they were in a state of mortal fear. "Well, then," he replied, "go back and pull down your stockade, and you will have quite enough wood." They returned into camp and began to demolish the rampart, to the great terror of those who had remained in camp, and especially of Appius himself, until the news spread from one to another that they were acting under the orders of Q. Fabius, the consul. On the following day the camp was shifted, and Appius was sent back to Rome to take up his duties as praetor.
From that time the Romans had no standing camp. Fabius said that it was bad for the army to remain fixed in one spot; it became more healthy and active by frequent marches and change of position. They made as long and frequent marches as the season allowed, for the winter was not yet over. As soon as spring set in, he left the second legion at Clusium, formerly called Camars, and placed L. Scipio in charge of the camp as propraetor. He then returned to Rome to consult the senate as to future operations. He may have taken this step on his own initiative after finding from personal observation that the war was a bigger thing than he had believed it to be from the reports received, or he may have been summoned home by the senate; both reasons are assigned by our authorities. Some want to make it appear that he was compelled to return, owing to the action of Appius Claudius, who had sent alarming despatches about the state of things in Etruria, and was now adding to the alarm by his speeches in the senate and before the Assembly. He considered one general with only one army quite insufficient to cope with four nations; whether they combined their forces against him or acted separately, there was the danger of his being unable, single-handed, to meet all emergencies. He had left only two legions there, and less than 5000 infantry and cavalry had arrived with Fabius, and he advised that P. Decius should join his colleague in Etruria as soon as possible. Samnium could be handed over to L. Volumnius, or, if the consul preferred to keep to his own province, Volumnius should go to the support of Fabius with a full consular army. As the praetor's representations were producing a considerable impression, we are told that Decius gave it as his opinion that Fabius ought not to be interfered with, but left free to act as he thought best until he had either himself come to Rome, if he could do so with safety to the State, or had sent some member of his staff from whom the senate could learn the actual state of things in Etruria, what force would be necessary, and how many generals would be required.
[10.26]Immediately on his arrival in Rome, Fabius addressed the senate and also the Assembly on the subject of the war. His tone was calm and temperate, he did not exaggerate, nor did he underrate the difficulties. If, he said, he accepted a colleague's assistance it would be more out of consideration for other people's fears than to provide against any danger either to himself or to the republic. If, however, they did give him a coadjutor to be associated with him in the command, how could he possibly overlook P. Decius, who had been so frequently his colleague, and whom he knew so well? There was no one in the world whom he would sooner have; if Decius were with him he should always find his forces sufficient for the work and never find the enemy too numerous for him to deal with. If his colleague preferred some other arrangement they might give him L. Volumnius. The people, the senate, and his own colleague all agreed that Fabius should have a perfectly free hand in the matter, and when Decius made it clear that he was ready to go either to Samnium or to Etruria, there was universal joy and congratulation. Victory was already regarded as certain, and it looked as though a triumph, and not a serious war, had been decreed to the consuls. I find it stated in some authorities that Fabius and Decius both started for Etruria immediately on entering office, no mention being made of their not deciding their provinces by lot, or of the quarrel between the colleagues which I have described. Some, on the other hand, were not satisfied with simply narrating the dispute, but have given in addition certain charges which Appius brought against the absent Fabius before the people. and the bitter attacks he made upon him in his presence, and mention is made of a second quarrel between the colleagues caused by Decius insisting that each should keep the province assigned to him. We find more agreement amongst the authorities from the time that both consuls left Rome for the scene of war.
But before the consuls arrived in Etruria the Senonian Gauls came in immense numbers to Clusium with the intention of attacking the Roman camp and the legion stationed there. Scipio was in command, and thinking to assist the scantiness of his numbers by taking up a strong position, he marched his force on to a hill which lay between his camp and the city. The enemy had appeared so suddenly that he had had no time to reconnoitre the ground, and he went on towards the summit after the enemy had already seized it, having approached it from the other side. So the legion was attacked in front and rear and completely surrounded. Some authors say that the entire legion was wiped out there, not a man being left to carry the tidings, and that though the consuls were not far from Clusium at the time, no report of the disaster reached them until Gaulish horsemen appeared with the heads of the slain hanging from their horses' chests and fixed on the points of their spears, whilst they chanted war-songs after their manner. According to another tradition they were not Gauls at all, but Umbrians, nor was there a great disaster; a foraging party commanded by L. Manlius Torquatus, a staff officer, was surrounded, but Scipio sent assistance from the camp, and in the end the Umbrians were defeated and the prisoners and booty recovered. It is more probable that this defeat was inflicted by Gauls and not by Umbrians, for the fears of an irruption of Gauls which had been so often aroused were especially present to the minds of the citizens this year, and every precaution was taken to meet it. The force with which the consuls had taken the field consisted of four legions and a large body of cavalry, in addition to 1000 picked Campanian troopers detailed for this war, whilst the contingents furnished by the allies and the Latin League formed an even larger army than the Roman army. But in addition to this large force two other armies were stationed not far from the City, confronting Etruria; one in the Faliscan district, another in the neighbourhood of the Vatican. The propraetors, Cnaeus Fulvius and L. Postumius Megellus, had been instructed to fix their standing camps in those positions.
[10.27]After crossing the Apennines, the consuls descended into the district of Sentinum and fixed their camp about four miles' distance from the enemy. The four nations consulted together as to their plan of action, and it was decided that they should not all be mixed up in one camp nor go into battle at the same time. The Gauls were linked with the Samnites, the Umbrians with the Etrurians. They fixed upon the day of battle, the brunt of the fighting was to be reserved for the Gauls and Samnites, in the midst of the struggle the Etruscans and Umbrians were to attack the Roman camp. These arrangements were upset by three deserters, who came in the secrecy of night to Fabius and disclosed the enemy's plans. They were rewarded for their information and dismissed with instructions to find out and report whatever fresh decision was arrived at. The consuls sent written instructions to Fulvius and Postumius to bring their armies up to Clusium and ravage the enemy's country on their march as far as they possibly could. The news of these ravages brought the Etruscans away from Sentinum to protect their own territory. Now that they had got them out of the way, the consuls tried hard to bring on an engagement. For two days they sought to provoke the enemy to fight, but during those two days nothing took place worth mentioning; a few fell on both sides and enough exasperation was produced to make them desire a regular battle without, however, wishing to hazard everything on a decisive conflict. On the third day the whole force on both sides marched down into the plain. Whilst the two armies were standing ready to engage, a hind driven by a wolf from the mountains ran down into the open space between the two lines with the wolf in pursuit. Here they each took a different direction, the hind ran to the Gauls, the wolf to the Romans. Way was made for the wolf between the ranks; the Gauls speared the hind. On this a soldier in the front rank exclaimed: "In that place where you see the creature sacred to Diana lying dead, flight and carnage will begin; here the wolf, whole and unhurt, a creature sacred to Mars, reminds us of our Founder and that we too are of the race of Mars." The Gauls were stationed on the right, the Samnites on the left. Q. Fabius posted the first and third legions on the right wing, facing the Samnites; to oppose the Gauls, Decius had the fifth and sixth legions, who formed the Roman left. The second and fourth legions were engaged in Samnium with L. Volumnius the proconsul. When the armies first met they were so evenly matched that had the Etruscans and Umbrians been present, whether taking part in the battle or attacking the camp, the Romans must have been defeated.
[10.28]But although neither side was gaining any advantage and Fortune had not yet indicated in any way to whom she would grant the victory, the fighting on the right wing was very different from that on the left. The Romans under Fabius were acting more on the defensive and were protracting the contest as long as possible. Their commander knew that it was the habitual practice of both the Gauls and the Samnites to make a furious attack to begin with, and if that were successfully resisted, it was enough; the courage of the Samnites gradually sank as the battle went on, whilst the Gauls, utterly unable to stand heat or exertion, found their physical strength melting away; in their first efforts they were more than men, in the end they were weaker than women. Knowing this, he kept the strength of his men unimpaired against the time when the enemy usually began to show signs of defeat. Decius, as a younger man, possessing more vigour of mind, showed more dash; he made use of all the strength he possessed in opening the attack, and as the infantry battle developed too slowly for him, he called on the cavalry. Putting himself at the head of a squadron of exceptionally gallant troopers, he appealed to them as the pick of his soldiers to follow him in charging the enemy, for a twofold glory would be theirs if victory began on the left wing and, in that wing, with the cavalry. Twice they swept aside the Gaulish horse. Making a third charge, they were carried too far, and whilst they were now fighting desperately in the midst of the enemy's cavalry they were thrown into consternation by a new style of warfare. Armed men mounted on chariots and baggage wagons came on with a thunderous noise of horses and wheels, and the horses of the Roman cavalry, unaccustomed to that kind of uproar, became uncontrollable through fright; the cavalry after their victorious charges, were now scattered in frantic terror; horses and men alike were overthrown in their blind flight. Even the standards of the legionaries were thrown into confusion, and many of the front rank men were crushed by the weight of the horses and vehicles dashing through the lines. When the Gauls saw their enemy thus demoralised they did not give them a moment's breathing space in which to recover themselves, but followed up at once with a fierce attack. Decius shouted to his men and asked them whither they were fleeing, what hope they had in flight; he tried to stop those who were retreating and recall the scattered units. Finding himself unable, do what he would, to check the demoralisation, he invoked the name of his father, P. Decius, and cried: "Why do I any longer delay the destined fate of my family? This is the privilege granted to our house that we should be an expiatory sacrifice to avert dangers from the State. Now will I offer the legions of the enemy together with myself as a sacrifice to Tellus and the Dii Manes." When he had uttered these words he ordered the pontiff, M. Livius, whom he had kept by his side all through the battle, to recite the prescribed form in which he was to devote "himself and the legions of the enemy on behalf of the army of the Roman people, the Quirites." He was accordingly devoted in the same words and wearing the same garb as his father, P. Decius, at the battle of Veseris in the Latin war. After the usual prayers had been recited he uttered the following awful curse: "I carry before me terror and rout and carnage and blood and the wrath of all the gods, those above and those below. I will infect the standards, the armour, the weapons of the enemy with dire and manifold death, the place of my destruction shall also witness that of the Gauls and Samnites." After uttering this imprecation on himself and on the enemy he spurred his horse against that part of the Gaulish line where they were most densely massed and leaping into it was slain by their missiles.
[10.29]From this moment the battle could hardly have appeared to any man to be dependent on human strength alone. After losing their leader, a thing which generally demoralises an army, the Romans arrested their flight and recommenced the struggle. The Gauls, especially those who were crowded round the consul's body, were discharging their missiles aimlessly and harmlessly as though bereft of their senses; some seemed paralysed, incapable of either fight or flight. But, in the other army, the pontiff Livius, to whom Decius had transferred his lictors and whom he had commissioned to act as propraetor, announced in loud tones that the consul's death had freed the Romans from all danger and given them the victory, the Gauls and Samnites were made over to Tellus the Mother and the Dii Manes, Decius was summoning and dragging down to himself the army which he had devoted together with himself, there was terror everywhere among the enemy, and the Furies were lashing them into madness. Whilst the battle was thus being restored, L. Cornelius Scipio and C. Marcius were ordered by Fabius to bring up the reserves from the rear to the support of his colleagues. There they learnt the fate of P. Decius, and it was a powerful encouragement to them to dare everything for the republic. The Gauls were standing in close order covered by their shields, and a hand-to-hand fight seemed no easy matter, but the staff officers gave orders for the javelins which were lying on the ground between the two armies to be gathered up and hurled at the enemy's shield wall. Although most of them stuck in their shields and only a few penetrated their bodies, the closely massed ranks went down, most of them falling without having received a wound, just as though they had been struck by lightning. Such was the change that Fortune had brought about in the Roman left wing.
On the right Fabius, as I have stated, was protracting the contest. When he found that neither the battle-shout of the enemy, nor their onset, nor the discharge of their missiles were as strong as they had been at the beginning, he ordered the officers in command of the cavalry to take their squadrons round to the side of the Samnite army, ready at a given signal to deliver as fierce a flank attack as possible. The infantry were at the same time to press steadily forwards and dislodge the enemy. When he saw that they were offering no resistance, and were evidently worn out, he massed all his support which he had kept in reserve for the supreme moment, and gave the signal for a general charge of infantry and cavalry. The Samnites could not face the onslaught and fled precipitately past the Gauls to their camp, leaving their allies to fight as best they could. The Gauls were still standing in close order behind their shield wall. Fabius, on hearing of his colleague's death, ordered a squadron of Campanian horse, about 500 strong, to go out of action and ride round to take the Gauls in the rear. The principes of the third legion were ordered to follow, and, wherever they saw the enemy's line disordered by the cavalry, to press home the attack and cut them down. He vowed a temple and the spoils of the enemy to Jupiter Victor, and then proceeded to the Samnite camp to which the whole crowd of panic-struck fugitives was being driven. As they could not all get through the gates, those outside tried to resist the Roman attack and a battle began close under the rampart. It was here that Gellius Egnatius, the captain-general of the Samnites, fell. Finally the Samnites were driven within their lines and the camp was taken after a brief struggle. At the same time the Gauls were attacked in the rear and overpowered; 25,000 of the enemy were killed in that day's fighting and 8000 made prisoners. The victory was by no means a bloodless one, for P. Decius lost 7000 killed and Fabius 1700. After sending out a search party to find his colleague's body, Fabius had the spoils of the enemy collected into a heap and burnt as a sacrifice to Jupiter Victor. The consul's body could not be found that day as it was buried under a heap of Gauls; it was discovered the next day and brought back to camp amidst the tears of the soldiers. Fabius laid aside all other business in order to pay the last rites to his dead colleague; the obsequies were conducted with every mark of honour and the funeral oration sounded the well-deserved praises of the deceased consul.
[10.30]During these occurrences in Umbria, Cnaeus Fulvius, the propraetor, was succeeding to the utmost of his wishes in Etruria. Not only did he carry destruction far and wide over the enemy's fields, but he fought a brilliant action with the united forces of Perusia and Clusium in which more than 3000 of the enemy were killed and as many as 20 standards taken. The remains of the Samnite army attempted to escape through the Pelignian territory, but were intercepted by the native troops, and out of 5000 as many as 1000 were killed. Great as the glory of the day on which the battle of Sentinum was fought must appear to any writer who adheres to the truth, it has by some writers been exaggerated beyond all belief. They assert that the enemy's army amounted to 1,000,000 infantry and 46,000 cavalry, together with 1000 war chariots. That, of course, includes the Umbrians and Tuscans who are represented as taking part in the battle. And by way of increasing the Roman strength they tell us that Lucius Volumnius commanded in the action as well as the consuls, and that their legions were supplemented by his army. In the majority of the annalists the victory is assigned only to the two consuls; Volumnius is described as compaigning during that time in Samnium, and after driving a Samnite army on to Mount Tifernus, he succeeded, in spite of the difficulty of the position, in defeating and routing them. Q. Fabius left Decius' army to hold Etruria and led back his own legions to the City to enjoy a triumph over the Gauls, the Etruscans, and the Samnites. In the songs which the soldiers sang in the procession the glorious death of Decius was celebrated quite as much as the victory of Fabius, and they recalled the father's memory in their praises of the son who had rivalled his father in his devotion and all that it had done for the State. Out of the spoils each soldier received eighty-two ases of bronze, with cloaks and tunics, rewards not to be despised in those days
[10.31]In spite of these defeats neither the Etruscans nor the Samnites remained quiet. After the consul had withdrawn his army the Perusians recommenced hostilities, a force of Samnites descended into the country round Vescia and Formiae, plundering and harrying as they went, whilst another body invaded the district of Aesernum and the region round the Vulturnus. Appius Claudius was sent against these with Decius' old army; Fabius, who had marched into Etruria, slew 4500 of the Perusians, and took 1740 prisoners, who were ransomed at 310 ases per head; the rest of the booty was given to the soldiers. The Samnites, one body of which was pursued by Appius Claudius, the other by L. Volumnius, effected a junction in the Stellate district and took up a position there. A desperate battle was fought, the one army was furious against those who had so often taken up arms against them, the other felt that this was their last hope. The Samnites lost 16,300 killed and 2700 prisoners; on the side of the Romans 2700 fell. As far as military operations went, the year was a prosperous one, but it was rendered an anxious one by a severe pestilence and by alarming portents. In many places showers of earth were reported to have fallen, and a large number of men in the army under Appius Claudius were said to have been struck by lightning. The Sacred Books were consulted in view of these occurrences. During this year Q. Fabius Gurges, the consul's son, who was an aedile, brought some matrons to trial before the people on the charge of adultery. Out of their fines he obtained sufficient money to build the temple of Venus which stands near the Circus.
The Samnite wars are still with us, those wars which I have been occupied with through these last four books, and which have gone on continuously for six-and-forty years, in fact ever since the consuls, M. Valerius and A. Cornelius, carried the arms of Rome for the first time into Samnium. It is unnecessary now to recount the numberless defeats which overtook both nations, and the toils which they endured through all those years, and yet these things were powerless to break down the resolution or crush the spirit of that people; I will only allude to the events of the past year. During that period the Samnites, fighting sometimes alone, sometimes in conjunction with other nations, had been defeated by Roman armies under Roman generals on four several occasions, at Sentinum, amongst the Paeligni, at Tifernum, and in the Stellate plains; they had lost the most brilliant general they ever possessed; they now saw their allies - Etruscans, Umbrians, Gauls - overtaken by the same fortune that they had suffered; they were unable any longer to stand either in their own strength or in that afforded by foreign arms. And yet they would not abstain from war; so far were they from being weary of defending their liberty, even though unsuccessfully, that they would rather be worsted than give up trying for victory. What sort of a man must he be who would find the long story of those wars tedious, though he is only narrating or reading it, when they failed to wear out those who were actually engaged in them?
[10.32]Q. Fabius and P. Decius were succeeded in the consulship by L. Postumius Megellus and M. Atilius Regulus. Samniurn was assigned to both of them as the field of operations in consequence of information received that three armies had been raised there, one being destined for Etruria, another was to ravage Campania, and the third was intended for the defence of their frontiers. Illness kept Postumius in Rome, but Atilius marched out at once in accordance with the senate's instructions, with the view of surprising the Samnite armies before they had started on their expeditions. He met the enemy, as though they had had a previous understanding, at a point where he himself was stopped from entering the Samnite country and at the same time barred any movement on their part towards Roman territory or the peaceable lands of her allies. The two camps confronted each other, and the Samnites, with the recklessness that comes of despair, ventured upon an enterprise which the Romans, who had been so often victorious, would hardly have undertaken, namely an attack on the enemy's camp. Their daring attempt did not achieve its end, but it was not altogether fruitless. During a great part of the day there had been so dense a fog that it was not only impossible to see anything beyond the rampart, but even people who were together were unable to see each other. The Samnites, relying on their movements being concealed, came on in the dim twilight - what light there was being obscured by the fog - and reached the outpost in front of the gate who were keeping a careless look-out, and who being thus attacked unawares had neither the strength nor the courage to offer any resistance. After disposing of the guard they entered the camp through the decuman gate and got possession of the quaestor's tent, the quaestor, L. Opimius Pansa, being killed. Then there was a general call to arms.
[10.33]The consul roused by the tumult ordered two of the allied cohorts, those from Luca and Suessa, which happened to be the nearest, to protect the headquarters' tent, and then he mustered the maniples in the via principalis. They got into line almost before they were in proper fighting trim, and they located the enemy by the direction of the shouting rather than by anything that they could see; as to his numbers they were quite unable to form any estimate. Doubtful as to their position they at first retreated, and thus allowed the enemy to advance as far as the middle of the camp. Seeing this the consul asked them whether they were going to be driven outside their rampart, and then try to recover their camp by assaulting it. Then they raised the battle-shout and steadily held their ground until they were able to take the offensive and force the enemy back, which they did persistently without giving him a moment's respite, until they had driven him outside the gate and past the rampart. Further than that they did not venture to go in pursuit, because the bad light made them fear the possibility of a surprise. Content with having cleared the enemy out of the camp they retired within the rampart, having killed about 300. On the Roman side, the outpost who were killed and those who fell round the quaestor's tent amounted to 230. The partial success of this daring maneuver raised the spirits of the Samnites, and they not only prevented the Romans from advancing but they even kept the foraging parties out of their fields, who had consequently to fall back on the pacified district of Sora. The report of this occurrence which reached Rome, and which was a much more sensational one than the facts warranted, compelled the other consul, L. Postumius, to leave the City before his health was quite re-established. He issued a general order for his men to assemble at Sora, and previous to his departure he dedicated the temple to Victory which he had, when curule aedile, built out of the proceeds of fines. On rejoining his army he marched from Sora to his colleague's camp. The Samnites despaired of offering an effectual resistance to two consular armies and withdrew; the consuls then proceeded in different directions to lay waste their fields and storm their cities.
[10.34]Amongst the latter was Milionia, which Postumius unsuccessfully attempted to carry by assault. He then attacked the place by regular approaches, and after his vineae were brought up to the walls he forced an entrance. From ten o'clock in the morning till two in the afternoon fighting went on in all quarters of the town with doubtful result; at last the Romans got possession of the place; 3200 Samnites were killed and 4700 made prisoners, in addition to the rest of the booty. From there the legions marched to Feritrum, but the townsfolk evacuated the place quietly during the night, taking with them all their possessions, everything which could be either driven or carried. Immediately on his reaching the vicinity, the consul approached the walls with his men prepared for action, as though there was going to be as much fighting there as there had been at Milionia. When he found that there was a dead silence in the city and no sign of arms or men was visible in the towers or on the walls, he checked his men, who were eager to get into the deserted fortifications, for fear he might be rushing blindly into a trap. He ordered two troops of cavalry belonging to the Latin contingent to ride round the walls and make a thorough reconnaissance. They discovered one gate open and another near it also open, and on the road leading from these gates traces of the enemy's nocturnal flight. Riding slowly up to the gates they obtained an uninterrupted view of the city through the straight streets, and brought back report to the consul that the city had been evacuated, as was clear from the unmistakable solitude and the things scattered about in the confusion of the night-evidence of their hasty flight. On receiving this information the consul led his army round to that side of the city which the cavalry had examined. Halting the standards near the gates, he ordered five horsemen to enter the city, and after going some distance three were to remain where they were, and two were to return and report to him what they had discovered. They reported that they had reached a point from which a view was obtained in all directions, and everywhere they saw a silent solitude. The consul immediately sent some light-armed cohorts into the city, the rest of the army received orders to form an entrenched camp. The soldiers who had entered the place broke open some of the houses and found a few old and sick people and such property left behind as they found too difficult to transport. This was appropriated, and it was ascertained from the prisoners that several cities in the neighbourhood had mutually agreed to leave their homes, and the Romans would probably find the same solitude in other cities. What the prisoners had said proved to be true, and the consul took possession of the abandoned towns.
[10.35]The other consul, M. Atilius, found his task by no means so easy. He had received information that the Samnites were besieging Luceria, and he marched to its relief, but the enemy met him at the frontier of the Lucerine territory. Exasperation and rage lent them a strength which made them a match for the Romans. The battle went on with changing fortunes and an indecisive result, but in the end the Romans were in the sorrier plight, for they were unaccustomed to defeat, and it was after the two armies had separated rather than in the battle itself that they realised how much greater the loss was on their side in both killed and wounded. When they were once more within their camp they became a prey to fears which, had they felt them whilst actually fighting, would have brought upon them a signal disaster. They passed an anxious night expecting that the Samnites would make an immediate attack on the camp, or that they would have to engage their victorious foe at daybreak. On the side of the enemy the loss was less, but certainly the courage displayed was not greater. As soon as it began to grow light the Romans were anxious to retire without fighting, but there was only one way and that led past the enemy; if they took that route it would amount to a challenge, for it would look as though they were directly advancing to attack the Samnite camp. The consul issued a general order for the soldiers to arm for battle and follow him outside the rampart. He then gave the necessary instructions to the officers of his staff, the military tribunes, and the prefects of the allies. They all assured him that as far as they were concerned they would do everything that he wished them to do, but the men had lost heart, they had passed a sleepless night amidst the wounded and the groans of the dying, and had the enemy attacked the camp while it was still dark, they were in such a state of fright that they would have deserted their standards. As it was they were only kept from flight by a feeling of shame, in every other respect they were practically beaten men.
Under these circumstances the consul thought he ought to go round and address the soldiers personally. When he came to any who were showing reluctance to arm themselves he asked them why they were so slow and so cowardly; the enemy would come up to their camp unless they met him outside; they would have to fight to defend their tents if they refused to fight in front of their rampart. Armed and fighting they had a chance of victory, but the men who awaited the enemy unarmed and defenceless would have to suffer either death or slavery. To these taunts and reproaches they replied that they were exhausted with the fighting on the previous day, they had no strength or blood left, and the enemy seemed to be in greater force than ever. Whilst this was going on the hostile army approached, and as they were now closer and could be seen more clearly the men declared that the Samnites were carrying stakes with them, and there was no doubt they intended to shut the camp in with a circumvallation. Then the consul loudly exclaimed that it would indeed be a disgrace if they submitted to such a galling insult from so dastardly a foe. "Shall we," he cried, "be actually blockaded in our camp to perish ignominiously by hunger rather than, if we must die, die bravely at the sword's point? Heaven forbid! Act, every man of you, as you deem worthy of yourselves! I, the consul, M. Atilius, will go against the enemy alone if none will follow and fall amongst the standards of the Samnites sooner than see a Roman camp hedged in by circumvallation." The consul's words were welcomed by all his officers, and the rank and file, ashamed to hold back any longer, slowly put themselves in fighting trim and slowly marched out of camp. They moved in a long irregular column, dejected and to all appearance thoroughly cowed, but the enemy against whom they were advancing felt no more confidence and showed no more spirit than they did. As soon as they caught sight of the Roman standards a murmur ran through the Samnite army from the foremost to the hindmost ranks that what they feared was actually happening, the Romans were coming out to oppose their march, there was no road open even for flight, they must either fall where they were or make their escape over the bodies of their prostrate foes.
[10.36]They piled their knapsacks in the centre and formed up in order of battle. There was by this time only a narrow space between the two armies, and each side were standing motionless waiting for the others to raise the battle-shout and begin the attack. Neither of them had any heart for fighting, and they would have marched off in opposite directions if they were not each apprehensive that the other would attack them on the retreat. In this timid and reluctant mood they commenced a feeble fight, without receiving any order to attack or raising any regular battle-shout, and not a man stirred a foot from where he stood. Then the consul, in order to infuse some spirit into the combatants, sent a few troops of cavalry to make a demonstration; most of them were thrown from their horses and the rest got into hopeless confusion. A rush was made by the Samnites to overpower those who had been dismounted; this was met by a rush from the Roman ranks to protect their comrades. This made the fighting somewhat more lively, but the Samnites rushed forward with more dash and in greater numbers, whilst the disordered Roman cavalry on their terrified horses were riding down their own supports. The demoralisation which began here extended to the whole army; there was a general flight, and the Samnites had none to fight with but the rearmost of their foes. At this critical moment the consul galloped back to the camp and posted a cavalry detachment before the gate with strict orders to treat as an enemy any one who made for the rampart whether Roman or Samnite. He then stopped his men who were running back to the camp in disorder, and in menacing tones called out, "Where are you going, soldiers? Here, too, you will find armed men, and not one of you shall enter the camp while your consul is alive unless you come as victors; now make your choice whether you would rather fight with your own countrymen or with the enemy." While the consul was speaking, the cavalry closed round the fugitives with levelled spears and peremptorily ordered them to return to the battlefield. Not only did the consul's courage help them to rally, but Fortune also favoured them. As the Samnites were not in close pursuit there was space enough for the standards to wheel round and the whole army to change front from the camp to the enemy. Now the men began to encourage each other, the centurions snatched the standards from the hands of the bearers and carried them forward, pointing out at the same time to their men how few the enemy were, and in what loose order they were coming. In the middle of it all the consul, raising his hands towards heaven and speaking in a loud voice so that he might be well heard, vowed a temple to Jupiter Stator if the Roman army stayed its flight and renewed the battle and defeated and slew the Samnites. All officers and men, infantry and cavalry alike, exerted themselves to the utmost to restore the battle. Even the divine providence seemed to have looked with favour on the Romans, so easily did matters take a favourable turn. The enemy were repulsed from the camp, and in a short time were driven back to the ground where the battle began. Here their movements were hampered by the heap of knapsacks they had piled up in their centre; to prevent these from being plundered they took up their position round them. But the Roman infantry pressed upon them in front and the cavalry attacked them in rear, so between the two they were all either killed or made prisoners. The latter amounted to 7800, these were all stripped and sent under the yoke. The number of those killed was reported to be 4800. The Romans had not much cause for rejoicing over their victory, for when the consul reckoned up the losses sustained through the two days' fighting the number of missing was returned as 7800. During these incidents in Apulia, the Samnites made an attempt with a second army upon the Roman colony at Interamna, situated on the Latin road. Failing to get possession of the city, they ravaged the fields and proceeded to carry off, along with their other plunder, a number of men and several head of cattle and some colonists whom they had captured. They fell in with the consul, who was returning from his victorious campaign in Luceria, and not only lost their booty, but their long straggling column was quite unprepared for attack and was consequently cut up. The consul issued a notice summoning the owners of the plundered property to Interamna to identify and recover what belonged to them, and leaving his army there, started for Rome to conduct the elections. He requested to be allowed a triumph, but this honour was refused him on the ground that he had lost so many thousands of men, and also because he had sent his prisoners under the yoke without its having been made a condition of their surrender.
[10.37]The other consul, Postumius, finding nothing for his troops to do amongst the Samnites, led them into Etruria and began to lay waste the district of Volsinia. The townsmen came out to defend their borders and a battle ensued not far from their walls; 2800 of the Etruscans were killed, the rest were saved by the proximity of their city. He then passed over into the Rusellan territory; there, not only were the fields harried, but the town itself was successfully assaulted. More than 2000 were made prisoners, and under 2000 killed in the storming of the place. The peace which ensued this year in Etruria was more important and redounded more to the honour of Rome than even the war which led to it. Three very powerful cities, the chief cities in Etruria, Vulsinii, Perusia, and Arretium, sued for peace, and after agreeing to supply the troops with clothing and corn, they obtained the consul's consent to send spokesmen to Rome, with the result that they obtained a forty years' truce. Each of the cities was at once to pay an indemnity of 500,000 ases. For these services the consul asked the senate to decree him a triumph. The request was made more as a matter of form, to comply with the established custom, than from any hope of obtaining it. He saw that some who were his personal enemies and others who were friends of his colleague refused his request on various grounds, some alleging that he had been too late in taking the field, others that he had transferred his army from Samnium to Etruria without any orders from the senate, whilst a third party were actuated by a desire to solace Atilius for the refusal which he had met with. In face of this opposition he simply said: "Senators, I am not so mindful of your authority as to forget that I am consul. By the same right and authority by which I have conducted wars, now that these wars have been brought to a successful close, Samnium and Etruria subdued, victory and peace secured, I shall celebrate my triumph." And with that he left the senate.
A sharp contention now broke out between the tribunes of the plebs. Some declared that they should interpose to prevent his obtaining a triumph in a way which violated all precedent, others asserted that they should give him their support in spite of their colleagues. The matter was brought before the Assembly, and the consul was invited to be present. In his speech he alluded to the cases of the consuls M. Horatius and L. Valerius and the recent one of Gaius Marcius Rutilus, the father of the man who was censor at the time. All these, he said, had been allowed a triumph, not on the authority of the senate but by an order of the people. He would have brought the question before the people himself had he not been aware that certain tribunes of the plebs who were bound hand and foot to the nobles would veto the proposal. He regarded the goodwill and favour of a unanimous people as tantamount to all the formal orders that were made. Supported by three of the tribunes against the veto of the remaining seven and against the unanimous voice of the senate he celebrated his triumph on the following day amidst a great outburst of popular enthusiasm. The records of this year vary widely from each other. According to Claudius, Postumius, after taking some cities in Samnium, was routed and put to flight in Apulia, he himself being wounded, and was driven with a small body of his troops to Luceria; the victories in Etruria were won by Atilius and it was he who celebrated the triumph. Fabius tells us that both consuls conducted the campaign in Samnium and at Luceria, and that the army was transferred to Etruria, but he does not say by which consul. He also states that at Luceria the losses were heavy on both sides, and that a temple was vowed to Jupiter Stator in that battle. This same vow Romulus had made many centuries before, but only the fanum, that is the site of the temple, had been consecrated. As the State had become thus doubly pledged, it became necessary to discharge its obligation to the god, and the senate made an order this year for the construction of the temple.
[10.38]The year following was marked by the consulship of L. Papirius Cursor, who had not only inherited his father's glory but enhanced it by his management of a great war and a victory over the Samnites, second only to the one which his father had won. It happened that this nation had taken the same care and pains to adorn their soldiery with all the wealth of splendour as they had done on the occasion of the elder Papirius' victory. They had also called in the aid of the gods by submitting the soldiers to a kind of initiation into an ancient form of oath. A levy was conducted throughout Samnium under a novel regulation; any man within the military age who had not assembled on the captain-general's proclamation, or any one who had departed without permission, was devoted to Jupiter and his life forfeited. The whole of the army was summoned to Aquilonia, and 40,000 men, the full strength of Samnium, were concentrated there. A space, about 200 feet square, almost in the centre of their camp, was boarded off and covered all over with linen cloth. In this enclosure a sacrificial service was conducted, the words being read from an old linen book by an aged priest, Ovius Paccius, who announced that he was taking that form of service from the old ritual of the Samnite religion. It was the form which their ancestors used when they formed their secret design of wresting Capua from the Etruscans. When the sacrifice was completed the captain-general sent a messenger to summon all those who were of noble birth or who were distinguished for their military achievements. They were admitted into the enclosure one by one. As each was admitted he was led up to the altar, more like a victim than like one who was taking part in the service, and he was bound on oath not to divulge what he saw and heard in that place. Then they compelled him to take an oath couched in the most terrible language, imprecating a curse on himself, his family, and his race if he did not go into battle where the commanders should lead him or if he either himself fled from battle or did not at once slay any one whom he saw fleeing. At first there were some who refused to take this oath; they were massacred beside the altar, and their dead bodies lying amongst the scattered remains of the victims were a plain hint to the rest not to refuse. After the foremost men among the Samnites had been bound by this dread formula, ten were especially named by the captain-general and told each to choose a comrade-in-arms, and these again to choose others until they had made up the number of 16,000. These were called the "linen legion," from the material with which the place where they had been sworn was covered. They were provided with resplendent armour and plumed helmets to distinguish them from the others. The rest of the army consisted of something under 20,000 men, but they were not inferior to the linen legion either in their personal appearance or soldierly qualities or in the excellence of their equipment. This was the number of those in camp at Aquilonia, forming the total strength of Samnium.
[10.39]The consuls left the City. The first to go was Spurius Carvilius, to whom were assigned the legions which M. Atilius, the previous consul, had left in the district of Interamna. With these he advanced into Samnium, and while the enemy were taken up with their superstitious observance and forming secret plans, he stormed and captured the town of Amiternum. Nearly 2800 men were killed there, and 4270 made prisoners. Papirius with a fresh army raised by senatorial decree successfully attacked the city of Duronia. He made fewer prisoners than his colleague, but slew a somewhat greater number. In both towns rich booty was secured. Then the consuls traversed Samnium in different directions; Carvilius, after ravaging the Atinate country, came to Cominium; Papirius reached Aquilonia, where the main army of the Samnites was posted. For some time his troops, while not quite inactive, abstained from any serious fighting. The time was spent in annoying the enemy when he was quiet, and retiring when he showed resistance - in threatening rather than in offering battle. As long as this practice went on day after day, of beginning and then desisting, even the slightest skirmish led to no result. The other Roman camp was separated by an interval of 20 miles, but Carvilius was guided in all his measures by the advice of his distant colleague; his thoughts were dwelling more on Aquilonia, where the state of affairs was so critical, than on Cominium, which he was actually besieging.
Papirius was at length perfectly ready to fight, and he sent a message to his colleague announcing his intention, if the auspices were favourable, of engaging the enemy the next day, and impressing upon him the necessity of attacking Cominium with his full strength, to give the Samnites no opportunity of sending succour to Aquilonia. The messenger had the day for his Journey, he returned in the night, bringing word back to the consul that his colleague approved of his plan. Immediately after despatching the messenger Papirius ordered a muster of his troops, and addressed them preparatory to the battle. He spoke at some length upon the general character of the war they were engaged in, and especially upon the style of equipment which the enemy had adopted, which he said served for idle pageantry rather than for practical use. Plumes did not inflict wounds, their painted and gilded shields would be penetrated by the Roman javelin, and an army resplendent in dazzling white would be stained with gore when the sword came into play. A Samnite army all in gold and silver had once been annihilated by his father, and those trappings had brought more glory as spoils to the victors than they had brought as armour to the wearers. It might, perhaps, be a special privilege granted to his name and family that the greatest efforts which the Samnites had ever made should be frustrated and defeated under their generalship and that the spoils which they brought back should be sufficiently splendid to serve as decorations for the public places in the City. Treaties so often asked for, so often broken, brought about the intervention of the immortal gods, and if it were permitted to man to form any conjecture as to the feelings of the gods, he believed that they had never been more incensed against any army than against this one of the Samnites. It had taken part in infamous rites and been stained with the mingled blood of men and beasts; it was under the two-fold curse of heaven, filled with dread at the thought of the gods who witnessed the treaties made with Rome and horror-struck at the imprecations which were uttered when an oath was taken to break those treaties, an oath which the soldiers took under compulsion and which they recall with loathing. They dread alike the gods, their fellow-countrymen, and the enemy.
[10.40]These details the consul had gathered from information supplied by deserters, and his mention of them increased the exasperation of the troops. Assured of the favour of heaven and satisfied that humanly speaking they were more than a match for their foes, they clamoured with one voice to be led to battle, and were intensely disgusted at finding that it was put off till the morrow; they chafed angrily at the delay of a whole day and night. After receiving the reply from his colleague, Papirius rose quietly in the third watch of the night and sent a pullarius to observe the omens. There was not a man, whatever his rank or condition, in the camp who was not seized by the passion for battle, the highest and lowest alike were eagerly looking forward to it; the general was watching the excited looks of the men, the men were looking at their general, the universal excitement extended even to those who were engaged in observing the sacred birds. The chickens refused to eat, but the pullarius ventured to misrepresent matters, and reported to the consul that they had eaten so greedily that the corn dropped from their mouths on to the ground. The consul, delighted at the news, gave out that the omens could not have been more favourable; they were going to engage the enemy under the guidance and blessing of heaven. He then gave the signal for battle. Just as they were taking up their position, a deserter brought word that 20 cohorts of the Samnites, comprising about 400 men each, had gone to Cominium. He instantly despatched a message to his colleague in case he should not be aware of this movement, and ordered the standards to be advanced more rapidly. He had already posted the reserves in their respective positions and told off an officer to take command of each detachment. The right wing of the main army he entrusted to L. Volumnius, the left to L. Scipio, and two other members of his staff, C. Caedicius and T. Trebonius, were placed in command of the cavalry. He gave orders for Spurius Nautius to remove the pack-saddles from the mules and to take them together with three of the auxiliary cohorts by a circuitous route to some rising ground visible from the battlefield, where during the progress of the fight he was to attract attention by raising as great a cloud of dust as possible.
While the consul was busy with these arrangements an altercation began between the pullarii about the omens which had been observed in the morning. Some of the Roman cavalry overheard it and thought it of sufficient importance to justify them in reporting to Spurius Papirius, the consul's nephew, that the omens were being called in question. This young man, born in an age when men were not yet taught to despise the gods, inquired into the matter in order to make quite sure that what he was reporting was true and then laid it before the consul. He thanked him for the trouble he had taken and bade him have no fears. "But," he continued, "if the man who is watching the omens makes a false report, he brings down the divine wrath on his own head. As far as I am concerned, I have received the formal intimation that the chickens ate eagerly, there could be no more favourable omen for the Roman people and army." He then issued instructions to the centurions to place the pullarius in front of the fighting line. The standards of the Samnites were now advancing, followed by the army in gorgeous array; even to their enemies they presented a magnificent sight. Before the battle-shout was raised or the lines closed a chance javelin struck the pullarius and he fell in front of the standards. When this was reported to the consul he remarked, "The gods are taking their part in the battle, the guilty man has met with his punishment." While the consul was speaking a crow in front of him gave a loud and distinct caw. The consul welcomed the augury and declared that the gods had never more plainly manifested their presence in human affairs. He then ordered the charge to be sounded and the battle-shout to be raised.
[10.41]A savagely fought contest ensued. The two sides were, however, animated by very different feelings. The Romans went into battle eager for the fray, confident of victory, exasperated against the enemy and thirsting for his blood. The Samnites were, most of them, dragged in against their will by sheer compulsion and the terrors of religion, and they adopted defensive rather than aggressive tactics. Accustomed as they had been for so many years to defeat, they would not have sustained even the first shout and charge of the Romans had not a still more awful object of fear possessed their minds and stayed them from flight. They had before their eyes all that paraphernalia of the secret rite - the armed priests, the slaughtered remains of men and beasts scattered about indiscriminately, the altars sprinkled with the blood of the victims and of their murdered countrymen, the awful imprecations, the frightful curses which they had invoked on their family and race - these were the chains which bound them so that they could not flee. They dreaded their own countrymen more than the enemy. The Romans pressed on from both wings and from the centre and cut down men who were paralysed by fear of gods and men. Only a feeble resistance could be offered by those who were only kept from flight by fear. The carnage had almost extended to the second line where the standards were stationed when there appeared in the side distance a cloud of dust as though raised by the tread of an immense army. It was Sp. Nautius - some say Octavius Maecius - the commander of the auxiliary cohorts. They raised a dust out of all proportion to their numbers, for the camp-followers mounted upon the mules were dragging leafy boughs along the ground. At first the arms and standards gradually became visible through the beclouded light, and then a loftier and thicker cloud of dust gave the appearance of cavalry closing the column. Not only the Samnites but even the Romans were deceived, and the consul endorsed the mistake by shouting to his front rank so that the enemy could hear: "Cominium has fallen, my victorious colleague is coming on the field, do your best to win the victory before the glory of doing so falls to the other army!" He rode along while saying this, and commanded the tribunes and centurions to open their ranks to allow passage for the cavalry. He had previously told Trebonius and Caedicius that when they saw him brandish his spear aloft they should launch the cavalry against the enemy with all the force they could. His orders were carried out to the letter; the legionaries opened their ranks, the cavalry galloped through the open spaces, and with levelled spears charged the enemy's centre. Wherever they attacked they broke the ranks. Volumnius and Scipio followed up the cavalry charge and completed the discomfiture of the Samnites. At last the dread of gods and men had yielded to a greater terror, the "linen cohorts " were routed; those who had taken the oath and those who had not alike fled; the only thing they feared now was the enemy.
The bulk of the infantry who survived the actual battle were driven either into their camp or to Aquilonia, the nobility and cavalry fled to Bovianum. The cavalry were pursued by cavalry, the infantry by infantry; the wings of the Roman army separated, the right directed its course towards the Samnite camp, the left to the city of Aquilonia. The first success fell to Volumnius, who captured the Samnite camp. Scipio met with a more sustained resistance at the city, not because the defeated foe showed more courage there, but because stone walls are more difficult to surmount than the rampart of a camp. They drove the defenders from their walls with showers of stones. Scipio saw that unless his task was completed before the enemy had time to recover from their panic, an attack on a fortified city would be a somewhat slow affair. He asked his men whether they would be content to allow the enemy's camp to be captured by the other army, whilst they themselves after their victory were repulsed from the gates of the city. There was a universal shout of "No!" On hearing this he held his shield above his head and ran to the gate, the men followed his example, and roofing themselves with their shields burst through into the city. They dislodged the Samnites from the walls on either side of the gate, but as they were only a small body did not venture to penetrate into the interior of the city.
[10.42]The consul was at first unaware of what was going on, and was anxious to recall his troops, for the sun was now rapidly sinking and the approaching night was making every place suspicious and dangerous, even for victorious troops. After he had ridden forward some distance he saw that the camp on his right hand had been captured, and he heard at the same time the mingled clamour of shouts and groans arising in the direction of the city on his left; just then the fighting at the gate was going on. As he approached more closely he saw his men on the walls and recognised that the position was no longer doubtful, since by the reckless daring of a few the opportunity for a brilliant success had been won. He at once ordered the troops whom he had recalled to be brought up and prepared for a regular attack on the city. Those who were within bivouacked near the gate as night was approaching, and during the night the place was evacuated by the enemy. The Samnite losses during the day amounted to 20,340 killed and 3870 made prisoners, whilst 97 standards were taken. It is noticed in the histories that hardly any other general ever appeared in such high spirits during the battle, either owing to his fearless temperament or to the confidence he felt in his final success. It was this dauntless and resolute character which prevented him from abandoning all idea of fighting when the omens were challenged. It was this, too, that made him in the very crisis of the struggle, at the moment when it is customary to vow temples to the gods, make a vow to Jupiter Victor that if he routed the legions of the enemy he would offer him a cup of sweetened wine before he drank anything stronger himself. This vow was acceptable to the gods and they changed the omens into favourable ones.
[10.43]The same good fortune attended the other consul at Cominium. At the approach of daylight he brought his whole force up to the walls so as to enclose the city with a ring of steel, and stationed strong bodies of troops before the gates to prevent any sortie from being made. Just as he was giving the signal for assault the alarming message reached him from his colleague about the 20 cohorts. This delayed the attack and necessitated the recall of a portion of his troops, who were ready and eager to begin the storm. He ordered D. Brutus Scaeva, one of his staff, to intercept the hostile reinforcements with the first legion and ten auxiliary cohorts with their complement of cavalry. Wherever he fell in with them he was to hold them and stop their advance; if circumstances should make it necessary he was to offer them battle; in any case he was to prevent those troops from reaching Cominium. Then he went on with his preparations for the assault. Orders were issued for scaling ladders to be reared against the walls in all directions and an approach made to the gates under a shield roof. Simultaneously with the smashing in of the gates the storming parties clambered up on the walls on every side. Until they saw their enemy actually on the walls the Samnites had sufficient courage to try to keep them from approaching the city, but when they had to fight not by discharging their missiles from a distance, but at close quarters, when those who had forced their way on to the walls and overcome the disadvantage of being on lower ground were fighting on even terms with an enemy who was no match for them, the defenders abandoned their walls and towers and were driven back into the forum. Here they made a desperate effort to retrieve their fortune, but after a brief struggle they threw down their arms and 11,400 men surrendered after losing 4880 killed. Thus matters went at Cominium as they had gone at Aquilonia.
In the country between these two cities, where a third battle was expected, nothing was seen of the 20 cohorts. When they were still seven miles from Cominium they were recalled by their comrades, and so did not come in for either battle. Just as twilight was setting in, when they had reached a spot from which their camp and Aquilonia were both visible, a noise of shouting from both quarters made them call a halt. Then in the direction of their camp, which had been set on fire by the Romans, flames shooting up far and wide, a more certain indication of disaster, stopped them from going any further. They threw themselves down just where they were under arms, and passed a restless night waiting for and dreading the day. When it began to grow light, whilst they were still uncertain what direction to take, they were espied by the cavalry who had gone in pursuit of the Samnites in their nocturnal retreat from Aquilonia. The whole body were plainly discernible, with no entrenchments to protect them, no outposts on guard. They were visible, too, from the walls of the city, and in a short time the legionary cohorts were on their track. They made a hasty flight, and the infantry were unable to come up with them, but some 280 in the extreme rear were cut down by the cavalry. A great quantity of arms and 22 standards were left behind in their hurry to escape. The other body who had escaped from Aquilonia reached Bovianum in comparative safety, considering the confusion which marked their retreat.
[10.44]The rejoicings in each of the Roman armies were all the greater because of the success achieved by the other. The consuls, by mutual agreement, gave up the captured cities to be sacked by the soldiery. When they had cleared out the houses they set them on fire and in one day Aquilonia and Cominium were burnt to the ground. Amidst their own mutual congratulations and those of their soldiers, the consuls united their camps. In the presence of the two armies rewards and decorations were bestowed by both Carvilius and Papirius. Papirius had seen his men through many different actions in the open field, around their camp, under city walls, and the rewards he bestowed were well merited. Spurius Nautius, Spurius Papirius, his nephew, four centurions, and a maniple of hastati all received golden bracelets and crowns. Sp. Nautius won his for his success in the maneuver by which he frightened the enemy with the appearance of a large army; the young Papirius owed his reward to the work he did with his cavalry in the battle and in the following night, when he harassed the retreat of the Samnites from Aquilonia; the centurions and men of the maniple were rewarded for having been the first to seize the gate and wall of the city. All the cavalry were presented with ornaments for their helmets and silver bracelets as rewards for their brilliant work in various localities. Subsequently a council of war was held to settle whether the time had come for withdrawing both armies from Samnium, or, at all events, one of them. It was thought best to continue the war, and to carry it on more and more ruthlessly in proportion as the Samnites became weaker, in order that they might hand over to the consuls who succeeded them a thoroughly subdued nation. As the enemy had now no army in a condition to fight in the open field, the war could only be carried on by attacking their cities, and the sack of those which they captured would enrich the soldiers, whilst the enemy, compelled to fight for their hearths and homes, would gradually become exhausted. In pursuance of this plan the consuls sent despatches to Rome giving an account of their operations and then separated, Papirius marching to Saepinum, whilst Carvilius led his legions to the assault on Velia.
[10.45]The contents of these despatches were listened to with every manifestation of delight, both in the senate and in the Assembly. A four days' thanksgiving was appointed as an expression of the public joy, and festal observances were kept up in every house. These successes were not only of great importance in themselves, but they came most opportunely for Rome, as it so happened that at that very time information was received that Etruria had again commenced hostilities. The question naturally occurred to people's minds, how would it have been possible to withstand Etruria if any reverse had been met with in Samnium? The Etruscans, acting upon a secret understanding with the Samnites, had seized the moment when both consuls and the whole force of Rome were employed against Samnium as a favourable opportunity for recommencing war. Embassies from the allied states were introduced by M. Atilius the praetor into the senate and complained of the ravaging and burning of their fields by their Etruscan neighbours because they would not revolt from Rome. They appealed to the senate to protect them from the outrageous violence of their common foe, and were told in reply that the senate would see to it that their allies had no cause to regret their fidelity, and that the day was near when the Etruscans would be in the same position as the Samnites. Still, the senate would have been somewhat dilatory in dealing with the Etruscan question had not intelligence come to hand that even the Faliscans, who had for many years been on terms of friendship with Rome, had now made common cause with the Etruscans. The proximity of this city to Rome made the senate take a more serious view of the position, and they decided to send the fetials to demand redress. Satisfaction was refused, and by order of the people with the sanction of the senate war was formally declared against the Faliscans. The consuls were ordered to decide by lot which of them should transport his army from Samnium into Etruria.
By this time Carvilius had taken from the Samnites three of their cities, Velia, Palumbinum, and Herculaneum. Velia he took after a few days' siege, Palumbinum on the day he arrived before its walls. Herculaneum gave him more trouble; after an indecisive battle in which, however, his losses were somewhat the heavier he moved his camp close up to the town and shut up the enemy within their walls. The place was then stormed and captured. In these three captures the number of killed and prisoners amounted to 10,000, the prisoners forming a small majority of the total loss. On the consuls casting lots for their respective commands, Etruria fell to Carvilius, much to the satisfaction of his men, who were now unable to stand the intense cold of Samnium. Papirius met with more resistance at Saepinum. There were frequent encounters, in the open field, on the march, and round the city itself when he was checking the sorties of the enemy. There was no question of siege operations, the enemy met him on equal terms, for the Samnites protected their walls with their arms quite as much as their walls protected them. At last by dint of hard fighting he compelled the enemy to submit to a regular siege, and after pressing the siege with spade and sword he finally effected the capture of the place. The victors were exasperated by the obstinate resistance, and the Samnites suffered heavily, losing no less than 7400 killed, while only 3000 were made prisoners. Owing to the Samnites having stored all their property in a limited number of cities there was a vast amount of plunder, the whole of which was given to the soldiery.
[10.46]Everything was now deep in snow, and it was impossible to remain any longer in the open, so the consul withdrew his army from Samnium. On his approach to Rome a triumph was granted to him by universal consent. This triumph, which he celebrated while still in office, was a very brilliant one for those days. The infantry and cavalry who marched in the procession were conspicuous with their decorations, many were wearing civic, mural, and vallarian crowns. The spoils of the Samnites attracted much attention; their splendour and beauty were compared with those which the consul's father had won, and which were familiar to all through their being used as decorations of public places. Amongst those in the victor's train were some prisoners of high rank distinguished for their own or their fathers' military services; there were also carried in the procession 2,533,000 bronze ases, stated to be the proceeds of the sale of the prisoners, and 1830 pounds of silver taken from the cities. All the silver and bronze was stored in the treasury, none of this was given to the soldiers. This created dissatisfaction amongst the plebs, which was aggravated by the collection of the war tax to provide the soldiers' pay, for if Papirius had not been so anxious to get the credit of paying the price of the prisoners into the treasury there would have been enough to make a gift to the soldiers and also to furnish their pay. He dedicated the temple of Quirinus. I do not find in any ancient author that it was he who vowed this temple in the crisis of a battle, and certainly he could not have completed it in so short a time; it was vowed by his father when Dictator, and the son dedicated it when consul. and adorned it with the spoils of the enemy. There was such a vast quantity of these that not only were the temple and the Forum adorned with them, but they were distributed amongst the allied peoples and the nearest colonies to decorate their public spaces and temples. After his triumph Papirius led his army into the neighbourhood of Vescia, as that district was still infested by the Samnites, and there he wintered.
During this time Carvilius was making preparations to attack Troilum in Etruria. He allowed 470 of its wealthiest citizens to leave the place after they had paid al1 enormous sum by way of ransom; the town with the rest of its population he took by storm. Going on from there he carried five forts, positions of great natural strength. In these actions the enemy lost 2400 killed and 2000 prisoners. The Faliscans sued for peace, and he granted them a truce for one year on condition of their supplying a year's pay to his troops, and an indemnity of 100,000 ases of bronze coinage. After these successes he went home to enjoy his triumph, a triumph less illustrious than his colleague's in regard of the Samnite campaign, but fully equal to it considering his series of successes in Etruria. He brought into the treasury 380,000 ases out of the proceeds of the war, the rest he disposed of partly in contracting for the building of a temple to Fortis Fortuna, near the temple of that deity, which King Servius Tullius had dedicated, and partly as a donative to the soldiers, each legionary receiving 102 ases, the centurions and cavalry twice as much. This gift was all the more acceptable to the men after the niggardliness of his colleague. L. Postumius, one of his staff, was indicted before the people, but was protected by the consul's popularity. His prosecutor was M. Scantius, a tribune of the plebs, and the report was that he had evaded trial by being made a staff-officer, proceedings, therefore, could only be threatened without being carried out.
[10.47]The year having now expired, new plebeian tribunes entered upon office, but there was a flaw in their election, and five days later others took their place. The lustrum was closed this year by the censors, P. Cornelius Arvina and C. Marcius Rutilus. The census returns gave the population as numbering 262,321. These were the twenty-sixth pair of censors since the first, the lustrum was the nineteenth. This year, for the first time, those who had been crowned for their deeds in war were allowed to wear their decorations at the Roman Games, and then, too, for the first time, palms were given to the victors after a custom borrowed from Greece. This year also the road from the temple of Mars to Bovillae was paved throughout its length by the curule aediles, who devoted to the purpose the fines levied on cattle-breeders. L. Papirius conducted the consular elections. The consuls elected were Q. Fabius Gurgites, the son of Maximus, and D. Junius Brutus Scaeva. Papirius himself was made praetor. The many incidents which helped to make the year a happy one served to console the citizens for one calamity, a pestilence which raged in the City and country districts alike. The mischief it did was looked upon as a portent. The Sacred Books were consulted to see what end or what remedy would be vouchsafed by the gods. It was ascertained that Aesculapius must be sent for from Epidaurus. Nothing, however, was done that year, owing to the consuls being engrossed with the war, beyond the appointment of a day of public intercession to Aesculapius.
End of Book 10
Copyright (c) 1996 by Bruce J. Butterfield.
No Restrictions for Non-Commercial use