Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK VIII. - History of Rome, Vol. 2
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BOOK VIII. - Titus Livius (Livy), History of Rome, Vol. 2 [10 AD]
The History of Rome by Titus Livius. Translated from the Original with Notes and Illustrations by George Baker, A.M.. First American, from the Last London Edition, in Six Volumes (New York: Peter A. Mesier et al., 1823). Vol. 2.
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The Latines, in conjunction with the Campanians, revolt; send ambassadors to Rome, to propose, as the condition of peace, that one of the consuls shall in future be chosen from among them. Their requisition rejected with disdain. Titus Manlius, the consul, puts his own son to death, for fighting, although successfully, contrary to orders. Decius, the other consul, devotes himself for the army. The Latines surrender. Manlius returning to the city, none of the young men go out to meet him. Minutia, a vestal, condemned for incest. Several matrons convicted of poisoning. Laws then first made against that crime. The Ausonians, Privernians, and Palæpolitans subdued. Quintus Publilius the first instance of a person continuing in command, after the expiration of his office, and of a triumph decreed to any person not a consul. Law against confinement for debt. Quintus Fabius, master of the horse, fights the Samnites, with success, contrary to the orders of Lucius Papirius, dictator; and, with difficulty, obtains pardon, through the intercession of the people. Successful expedition against the Samnites.
Y.R.414. 338.I. THE new consuls were now in office, Caius Plautius a second time, and Lucius Æmilius Mamercinus, when messengers from Setia and Norba brought information to Rome of the revolt of the Privernians, with complaints of the damages sustained by those colonies. News also arrived that an army of Volscians, headed by the people of Antium, had taken post at Satricum. Both these wars fell by lot to Plautius, who, marching first to Privernum, came to an immediate engagement. The enemy, after a slight resistance, were entirely defeated, and their town taken, but this was restored to the inhabitants, being first secured by a strong garrison, while two-thirds of their lands were taken from them. From thence the victorious army was led to Satricum against the Antians: there a furious battle was fought, with a great effusion of blood on both sides. A storm separated the combatants, while there was no evident advantage on either part; the Romans, however, no wise disheartened by the fatigue of an engagement so indecisive, prepared for battle against the next day. But the Volscians, when they had reckoned up their loss, found not in themselves the same degree of resolution for making a second trial, and marched off in the night to Antium, with all the hurry of a defeat; leaving behind their wounded, and part of their baggage. A vast quantity of arms was found, both in the field and in the camp: these the consul declared an offering to Mother Lua* , and, entering the enemy’s country, laid it all waste as far as the sea-coast. The other consul, Æmilius, on marching into the Sabellan territory, found neither a camp of the Samnites, nor legions to oppose him; but, while he was wasting their country with fire and sword, ambassadors came to him, suing for peace. He referred them to the senate; where, when they were admitted to an audidence, laying aside their fierceness of spirit, they requested of the Romans that peace might be restored between the two nations, and that they might be at liberty to carry on war against the Sidicinians: these requests, they alleged, they were the better entitled to make, as “they had united in friendship with the Roman people, at a time when their own affairs were in a flourishing state, not in a season of distress, as the Campanians had done; and, because those, against whom they wished to take arms, were the Sidicinians, who had ever been enemies to them, and never friends to the Romans; who had neither, as the Samnites, sought their friendship in time of peace; nor, as the Campanians, their assistance in war; nor were connected with them in any way, either of alliance or subjection.”
II. The prætor Tiberius Æmilius, having required the opinion of the senate respecting the demands of the Samnites, and the senate having voted a renewal of the treaty with them, gave them this answer, that, “as the Romans had given no cause to hinder the uninterrupted continuance of their friendship, so neither did they now object to its being revived; since the Samnites showed an unwillingness to persevere in a war, which they had brought on themselves through their own fault. That, as to what regarded the Sidicinians, they did not interfere with the liberty of the Samnite nation to determine for themselves with respect to peace and war.” The treaty being concluded, and the ambassadors returning home, the Roman army was immediately withdrawn from thence, after receiving a year’s pay for the soldiers, and corn for three months; which were the conditions stipulated by the consul, on his granting them a truce, until the ambassadors should return. The Samnites marched against the Sidicinians, with the same troops which they had employed in the Roman war, sanguine in their expectation of getting immediate possession of the enemy’s capital. On this the Sidicinians proposed, first, to the Romans, to put themselves under their dominion; but the senate rejected the proposal, as made too late, and forced from them merely by extreme necessity; then the same offer was made to, and accepted by the Latines, who were ready to commence hostilities on their own account. Nor did even the Campanians refrain from taking a part in this quarrel, much stronger impressions being left on their minds by the ill-treatment received from the Samnites, than by the kindness of the Romans. Out of such a number of nations, one vast army was composed, under the direction of the Latines, which, entering the territories of the Samnites, did much greater damage by depredations than by fighting. But, although the Latines had the better in the field, yet they were well pleased to retire out of the enemy’s country, to avoid the necessity of too frequent engagements. This respite afforded time to the Samnites to send ambassadors to Rome, who, having obtained an audience of the senate, made heavy complaints, that, though now their confederates, they suffered the same calamities which they had felt, when their enemies; and, with the humblest entreaties, requested, that the Romans would “think it enough to have deprived the Samnites of conquest over their enemies, the Campanians and Sidicinians; and that they would not, besides, suffer them to be conquered by such a union of dastardly nations. That they would, by their sovereign authority, oblige the Latines and Campanians, if those people were really under the dominion of the Romans, to forbear from entering the territory of the Samnites, and, if they refused obedience, compel them to it by arms.” To this the Romans gave an indeterminate answer, because it would have been mortifying to acknowledge that the Latines were not under their power, and they feared, lest, by charging them with misbehaviour, they might attempt to free themselves from all subjection: but considered the case of the Campanians as very different, they having come under their protection, not by treaty, but by surrender. They answered, therefore, that “the Campanians, whether willing or not, should be quiet; but, in the treaty with the Latines, there was no article which prohibited their waging war against whom they chose.”
III. This answer, as it sent away the Samnites in doubt what opinion to form, with respect to the conduct which the Romans intended to pursue, entirely subverted the allegiance of the Campanians by the menaces held out to them; it also increased the presumption of the Latines, as the senate seemed now not disposed, in any respect, to control them. These last, therefore, under the pretext of preparing for war against the Samnites, held frequent meetings, in which their chiefs, concerting matters among themselves, secretly fomented the design of a war with Rome. The Campanians, too, gave their support to this war, though against their preservers. But, notwithstanding that they took all possible pains to keep their proceedings from being generally known, and though they wished to get rid of the Volscian enemy then at their back, before the Romans should be alarmed; yet, by means of persons connected with the latter in hospitality, and other private ties, intelligence of the conspiracy was conveyed to Rome. There, the consuls being commanded to abdicate their office, in order that the new ones might be the sooner elected, and have the more time to prepare for a war of so great importance, it began to be considered as improper that the election should be held by persons not vested with full authority; consequently an interregnum took place, and continued under two interreges, Marcus Valerius and Marcus Fabius.Y.R.415. 337. The latter elected consuls, Titus Manlius Torquatus a third time, and Publius Decius Mus. It is agreed on all hands, that, in this year, Alexander, King of Epirus, made a descent with a fleet on Italy, in which expedition, had his first attempts been crowned with success, he would, without doubt, have carried his arms against the Romans. This period was also distinguished by the exploits of Alexander the Great, son to the other’s sister, who, in another quarter of the globe, after showing himself invincible in war, was doomed by fortune to be cut off by sickness in the prime of life. Now, the Romans, although they entertained not a doubt of the revolt of their allies, and of the Latine nation, yet, as if they acted in behalf of the Samnites, not of themselves, summoned ten of the chiefs of the Latines to appear at Rome, and receive their orders. The Latines had, at that time, two prætors, Lucius Annius, a native of Setia, and Lucius Numicius, of Circei, both Roman colonists; through whose means, besides Signia and Velitræ, which belonged to the Romans, the Volscians also had been engaged to join in the war. It was thought proper that these two should be particularly summoned; every one clearly perceived on what account they were sent for: the prætors, therefore, before they set out for Rome, called a general assembly, whom they informed, that they were called to attend the Roman senate, and desired their opinion with respect to the business which they supposed would be the subject of discussion, and to make known to them the answers which they chose should be given on the occasion.
IV. After several different opinions had been advanced, Annius said, “Although I myself proposed the question, of what answer should be made, yet, in my judgment, the general interest requires that ye determine how we are to act, rather than how we are to speak. When your designs shall be clearly unfolded, it will be easy to adapt words to the subject: for, if we are still capable of submitting to slavery, under the shadow of a confederacy between equals, what have we more to do than to abandon the Sidicinians, yield obedience to the commands, not only of the Romans, but of the Samnites, saying in answer to the former, that, whenever they intimate their pleasure, we are ready to lay down our arms? But, on the other hand, if our minds are at length penetrated by an ardent desire of liberty; if there be a confederacy subsisting; if alliance be equality of rights; if the Romans have now reason to glory in a circumstance, of which they were formerly ashamed, our being of the same blood with them; if they have, in our troops, such an army of allies, that, by its junction with their own, they double their strength; such a one, in short, as their consuls, either in commencing, or concluding their own wars, would, very unwillingly, disunite from their party: why is there not a perfect and settled equalization? why is it not permitted, that one of the consuls should be chosen from among the Latines? and that they, who supply an equal share of strength, should be admitted to an equal share in the government? This, indeed, considered in itself, would not redound to our honour, in any extraordinary degree: as we should still acknowledge Rome to be the metropolis of Latium; but that it may possibly appear to do so, is owing to our tame resignation for such a length of time. But, if ye ever wished to acquire a participation in the government, the opportunity now presents itself, afforded to you by the bounty of the gods, and your own resolution. Ye have tried their patience, by refusing the supply of troops: who can doubt that they were incensed, to the highest degree, when we broke through a practice of more than two hundred years continuance? yet they thought proper to smother their resentment. We waged war with the Pelignians in our own name: those who, formerly, would not grant us liberty to defend our own frontiers, interfered not then. They heard that we had received the Sidicinians into our protection; that the Campanians had revolted from them to us; that we were preparing an army to act against the Samnites, their confederates; yet they stirred not a step from their city. What but a knowledge of our strength, and of their own, made them thus moderate? I am informed, from good authority, that, when the Samnites made their complaints of us, the Roman senate answered them in such terms, as plainly evinced that they themselves did not insist on Latium being under the dominion of Rome. Urge, then, your claim, and assume the exercise of that right which they tacitly concede to you. If fear deters you from making this demand, lo! here I pledge myself that I will require, in the hearing, not only of the senate, and people of Rome, but of Jove himself, who resides in the Capitol, that, if they wish us to continue in confederacy and alliance with them, they receive from us, one of the consuls, and half of the senate.” On his not only recommending this measure with boldness, but undertaking the execution of it, they unanimously, with acclamations of applause, gave him authority to act, and speak, in such manner, as he should judge conducive to the interest of the republic of the Latine nation, and becoming his own honour.
V. When the prætors arrived in Rome, they had audience of the senate in the Capitol; and the consul, Titus Manlius, having, by the direction of the senate, required of them that they should not make war on the Samnites, the confederates of the Romans,—Annius, as if he were a conqueror, who had taken the Capitol by arms, and not an ambassador, who owed his safety, in speaking, to the law of nations, replied thus: “Titus Manlius, and ye, Conscript Fathers, it is full time for you to cease to treat us as a people subject to your commands, since ye see the very flourishing state, which, through the bounty of the gods, Latium enjoys at present, both with respect to numbers and strength: the Samnites are conquered by our arms; the Sidicinians and Campanians, and now the Volstians also, are united to us in alliance; and even your own colonies prefer the government of Latium to that of Rome. But, since ye do not think proper to put an end to your imperious exertions of arbitrary dominion, we, although able, by force of arms, to assert the independency of Latium, will yet pay so much regard to the connexion subsisting between us, as to offer an association on terms of equality, as it has pleased the gods that the strength of both should be, as it is, completely balanced. One of the consuls must be chosen out of Latium, the other out of Rome; the senate must consist of an equal number of each nation; we must become one people, one republic; and, in order that both may have the same seat of government, and the same name, as one side or the other must make the concession, let this, to the happiness of both, have the advantage of being deemed the mother country, and let us all be called Romans.” The Romans happened to have a consul, (Titus Manlius,) of a temper as vehement as that of Annius, who, so far from restraining his anger, openly declared, that, if the Conscript Fathers should be so infatuated, as to receive laws from a man of Setia, he would come into the senate, with his sword in hand, and put to death every Latine that he should find in their house; then turning to the statue of Jupiter, he exclaimed, “Jupiter, hear these impious demands; hear justice and equity. O Jupiter, are you, as if overpowered and made captive, to behold, in your consecrated temple, a foreign consul, and a foreign senate? are these, Latines, the treaties which the Roman king, Tullus, made with the Albans your forefathers, or which Lucius Tarquinius, afterwards concluded with yourselves? does not the fight at the lake Regillus recur to your thoughts? are your calamities of old, and our recent kindnesses towards you, entirely obliterated from your memories?”
VI. These words of the consul were followed by expressions of indignation from the senators; and it is related, that, in reply to the frequent addresses to the gods, whom the consuls often invoked as witnesses to the treaties, Annius was heard to express contempt of the divinity of the Roman Jupiter. However, being inflamed with wrath, and quitting the porch of the temple with hasty steps, he fell down the stairs, and was dashed against a stone at the bottom with such violence, that he received a contusion on his head, which deprived him of sense. As all authors do not concur in mentioning his death to have ensued, I, for my part, must leave that circumstance in doubt; as I shall another, of a violent storm, with dreadful noise in the air, happening while appeals were made to the gods, concerning the infraction of the treaties. For, as these accounts may possibly be founded in fact, so may they likewise have been invented, to express, in a lively manner, an immediate denunciation of the wrath of the gods. Torquatus, being sent by the senate to dismiss the ambassadors, on seeing Annius stretched on the ground, exclaimed, in a voice so loud as to be heard both by the senators and the people, “Ye gods, proceed in so just a war, in which your own rights are concerned; there is a Deity in heaven; thou dost exist, great Jupiter; not without reason have we consecrated you, in this mansion, as the father of gods and men. Why do you hesitate, Romans, and ye, Conscript Fathers, to take up arms, when the gods thus lead the way? Thus will I throw down, in the dust, the legions of the Latines, as ye see their ambassador prostrated.” These words of the consul were received by the multitude with applause, and excited such a flame in their breasts, that the ambassadors, at their departure, owed their safety rather to the care of the magistrates, who escorted them, by the consul’s order, than to the people’s regard to the laws of nations. The senate concurred in voting for the war; and the consuls, after raising two armies, marched through the territories of the Marsians and Pelignians; and, having formed a junction with the army of the Samnites, pitched their camp in the neighbourhood of Capua, where the Latines and their allies had already collected their forces. Here, as it is related, there appeared to both the consuls, in their sleep, the same figure of a man, of a form larger, and more majestic, than the human, who said to them, that “of the one party a general, of the other the army, were due as victims to the infernal gods, and to mother earth; and that on whichever side a general should devote the legions of his enemy, and himself, together with them, to that party and nation the victory would fall.” The consuls, having communicated to each other these visions of the night, determined, that victims should be slain to avert the wrath of the gods; and also, that, if the portents, appearing in their entrails, concurred with what they had seen in their sleep, one or other of the consuls should fulfil the will of the fates. Finding the answers of the auspices to agree with the awful impressions already made on their minds in private, they then called together the lieutenant-generals and tribunes; and, having made known to them all the decrees of the gods, settled between themselves, that, lest the voluntary death of a consul might dishearten the troops in the field, on whichever side the Roman army should begin to give ground, the consul commanding there should devote himself for the Roman people, and for his country. In this consultation, it was also mentioned, that, if ever strictness in command had been enforced in any war, it was then, particularly, requisite that military discipline should be brought back to the ancient model. Their attention was the more strongly directed to this point, by the consideration, that the enemies, with whom they had to deal, were the Latines; people who used the same language, and who had the same manners, the same kind of arms, and, what was more than all, the same military institutions as themselves; who had been intermixed with them in the same armies, often in the same companies, soldiers with soldiers, centurions with centurions, tribunes with tribunes, as comrades and colleagues. Lest, in consequence of this, the soldiers might be betrayed into any mistake, the consuls issued orders, that no person should fight with any of the enemy, except in his post.
VII. It happened that, among the other commanders of the troops of horsemen, which were dispatched to every quarter to procure intelligence, Titus Manlius, the consul’s son, came, with his troop, to the back of the enemy’s camp, so near as to be scarcely distant a dart’s throw from the next post, where some horsemen of Tusculum were stationed, under the command of Geminius Metrius, a man highly distinguished amongst his countrymen, both by his birth and conduct. On observing the Roman horsemen, and the consul’s son, remarkable above the rest, marching at their head, (for they were all known to each other, particularly men of any note,) he called out, “Romans, do ye intend, with one troop, to wage war against the Latines and their allies? What employment will the two consuls and their armies have in the mean time?” Manlius answered, “they will come in due season, and with them will come one whose power and strength is superior to either, Jupiter himself, the witness of those treaties which ye have violated. If, at the lake of Regillus, we gave you fighting until ye were weary, I will answer for it, that we shall, in this place also, give you such entertainment, that, for the future, it will not be extremely agreeable to you to face us in the field.” To this, Geminius, advancing a little from his men, replied, “Do you choose, then, until that day arrives, when, with such great labour ye move your armies, to enter the lists yourself with me, that, from the event of a combat between us two, it may immediately be seen how much a Latine horseman surpasses a Roman?” Either anger, or shame of declining the contest, or the irresistible power of destiny, urged on the daring spirit of the youth, so that, disregarding his father’s commands, and the edict of the consuls, he rushed precipitately to a contest, in which, whether he was victorious or vanquished, was of no great consequence to himself. The other horsemen removed to some distance, as if to behold a show; and then, in the space of clear ground which lay between, the combatants spurred on their horses against each other, and, on their meeting in fierce encounter, the point of Manlius’s spear passed over the helmet of his antagonist, and that of Metius, across the neck of the other’s horse: they then wheeled their horses round, and Manlius having, with the greater quickness, raised himself in his seat, to repeat his stroke, fixed his javelin between the ears of his opponent’s horse, the pain of which wound made the animal rear his fore feet on high, and toss his head with such violence, that he shook off his rider, whom as he endeavoured to raise himself, after the severe fall, by leaning on his javelin and buckler, Manlius pierced through the throat, so that the steel came out between his ribs, and pinned him to the earth. Then collecting the spoils, he rode back to his men, and, together with his troop, who exulted with joy, proceeded to the camp, and so on to his father, without ever reflecting on the nature, or the consequences of his conduct, or whether he had merited praise or punishment. “Father,” (said he,) “that all men may justly attribute to me the honour of being descended of your blood, having been challenged to combat, I bring these equestrian spoils taken from my antagonist, whom I slew.” Which, when the consul heard, turning away instantly from the youth, in an angry manner, he ordered an assembly to be called, by sound of trumpet; and, when the troops had come together in full numbers, he spoke in this manner: “Titus Manlius, for as much as you, in contempt of the consular authority, and of the respect due to a father, have, contrary to our edict, fought with the enemy, out of your post; and, as far as in you lay, subverted the military discipline, by which the power of Rome has to this day been supported; and have brought me under the hard necessity either of overlooking the interests of the public, or my own, and those of my nearest connections; it is fitter that we undergo the penalty of our own transgressions, than that the commonwealth should expiate our offences so injurious to it. We shall afford a melancholy example, but a profitable one, to the youth of all future ages. For my part, I own, both the natural affection of a parent, and the instance which you have shewn of bravery, misguided by a false notion of honour, affect me deeply. But, since the authority of a consul’s orders must either be established by your death; or, by your escaping with impunity, be annulled for ever; I expect that even you yourself, if you have any of our blood in you, will not refuse to restore, by your punishment, that military discipline which has been subverted by your fault. Go, lictor: bind him to the stake.” Shocked to the last degree at such a cruel order, each looking on the axe as if drawn against himself, all were quiet, through fear, rather than discipline. They stood, therefore, for some time motionless and silent; and when the blood spouted from his severed neck, then, their minds emerging, as it were, from the stupefaction in which they had been plunged, they all at once united their voices in free expressions of compassion, refraining not either from lamentations or execrations; and covering the body of the youth with the spoils, they burned it on a pile, erected without the rampart, with every honour which the warm zeal of the soldiers could bestow on a funeral. From thence, ‘ Manlian orders’ were not only then considered with horror, but have been transmitted, as a model of austerity, to future times. The harshness of this punishment, however, rendered the soldiery more obedient to their commander; while the guards and watches, and the regulation of the several posts, were thenceforth attended to with greater diligence: this severity was also found useful, when the troops, for the final decision, went into the field of battle.
VIII. A battle between these two nations much resembled that of a civil war; for, except in point of courage, there was a perfect similarity between the Latines and Romans, in every particular. The Romans formerly made use of targets; afterwards, when they came to receive pay, they made shields for themselves, instead of the targets; and their army, which before was composed of phalanxes, like those of the Macedonians, began to be formed in a line of distinct companies. At length a farther division was made of these, into centuries; each century containing sixty-two soldiers, one centurion, and a standard-bearer. The spearmen formed the first line, in ten companies, with small intervals between them. A company had twenty light armed soldiers, the rest bearing shields; those were called light, who carried only a spear and short iron javelins. This body, which formed the van in the field of battle, contained the youth in early bloom, who were advancing to the age of service; next to them followed the men of more robust age, in the same number of companies, whom they called Principes, all bearing shields, and distinguished by the completest armour. This band of twenty companies they called Antepilani, because there were, at the same time, ten others placed behind them with the standards. Of these companies, each was distinguished into three divisions, and the first division of each they called a Pilus. Each company had three ensigns, and contained one hundred and eighty-six men. The first ensign was at the head of the Triarii, veteran soldiers of approved courage; the second, at the head of the Rorarii, men whose age and course of service afforded less ability; the third, at that of the Accensi, the body in whom they placed the least confidence of all, for which reason also they were thrown back to the last line. An army being marshalled according to this disposition, the spearmen first began the fight: if these were unable to repulse the enemy, they retreated leisurely, and the principes received them into the intervals of their ranks. The fight then rested on the principes, the spearmen following in their rear. The veterans continued kneeling behind the ensigns, with their left leg extended forward, holding their shields resting on their shoulders, and their spears fixed in the ground, with the points erect; so that their line presented an appearance of strength, like that of a rampart. If the principes also failed in making an impression upon the enemy, they fell back slowly, from the front to the veterans. Hence came into use the proverbial expression, denoting a case of difficulty, that the affair had come to the Triarii. These, then, rising up, received the principes and spearmen into the intervals of their ranks, and immediately closing their files, shut up, as it were, every opening, and in one compact body fell upon the enemy; after which, there was no other resource left. This was the most formidable circumstance to the enemy, when, after having pursued them as vanquished, they saw a new line of battle suddenly starting up, with an increase of strength. The number of legions, generally raised, was four, each consisting of four thousand foot, and three hundred horse. To these, an addition of an equal number used to be made by levies, among the Latines, with whom the Romans were now to contend as enemies, and who practised the same method in drawing up their troops. So that it was well known, that, unless the ranks should be put out of their order, they would have to engage, not only ensign against ensign, a body of every description against one exactly similar, but even centurion against centurion. There were among the veterans two first centurions, one in each army; the Roman, deficient in bodily strength, but a man of courage and experience in service: the Latine, exceedingly strong, and a first-rate warrior. These were perfectly well known to each other, because they had always commanded centuries in equal rank. The Roman, diffident of his strength, had, before he left Rome, obtained permission from the consuls, to appoint any one, whom he thought proper, his sub-centurion, to defend him against the one who was destined to be his antagonist; and the youth whom he chose, being opposed to the Latine centurion in battle, obtained a victory over him. The armies came to an engagement at a little distance from the foot of Mount Vesuvius, where the road led to the Veseris.
IX. The Roman consuls, before they led out their forces to the field, performed sacrifices. We are told, that the aruspex showed to Decius, that the head of the liver was wounded on the side which respected himself, in other respects the victim was acceptable to the gods: but Manlius found, in his immolation, omens highly favourable. On which Decius said, “All is well yet, since my colleague’s offering has been accepted.” With their troops, arrayed in the order already described, they marched forth to battle. Manlius commanded the right wing; Decius, the left. At the beginning, the conflict was maintained with equal strength on both sides, and with equal courage. Afterwards, the Roman spearmen, on the left wing, unable to withstand the violent push made by the Latines, retreated to the principes. On this disorder happening, the consul Decius called to Marcus Valerius, with a loud voice, “Valerius, we want the aid of the gods: as public pontiff of the Roman people, dictate to me the words in which I may devote myself for the legions.” The pontiff then directed him to take the gown called Prætexta, and, with his head covered, and his hand thrust up under the gown to his chin, standing upon a spear laid under his feet, to repeat these words: “O Janus, Jupiter, father Mars, Quirinus, Bellona, ye Lares, ye gods Novensiles* , ye gods Indigetes, ye divinities, under whose dominion we and our enemies are, and ye gods of the infernal regions, I beseech you, I adore you, I implore of you, that ye may propitiously grant strength and victory to the Roman people, the Quirites; and affect the enemies of the Roman people, the Quirites, with terror, dismay, and death. In such manner as I have expressed in words, so do I devote the legions, and the auxiliaries of our foes, together with myself, to the infernal gods, and to earth, for the republic of the Romans, for the army, legions, and auxiliaries of the Roman people, the Quirites.” After he had uttered these solemn words, he ordered his lictors to go to Titus Manlius, and to inform his colleague, without delay, that he had devoted himself for the army. Then girding himself in the Gabine cincture, and taking his arms, he leaped on his horse, and plunged into the midst of the enemy. He appeared, in the view of both armies, much more majestic than one of the human race, as if sent from heaven to expiate all the wrath of the gods, to avert destruction from his friends, and transfer it to the side of their enemies: accordingly, all the terror and dismay went along with him; at first, disturbed the battalions of the Latines, and then spread universally over their whole line. This appeared most evidently, in that wherever he was carried by his horse, there they were seized with a panic, as if struck by some pestilent constellation: but where he fell, overwhelmed with darts, manifest consternation took possession of the cohorts of the Latines, so that they fled from the spot, leaving it void to a considerable extent. At the same time, the Romans, their minds being delivered from the dread of the gods, exerted themselves with fresh ardour, as if they were then rushing to the first onset, on receiving the signal. Then even the Rorarii pushed forward among the Antepilani, and added strength to the spearmen and principes, and the veterans, resting on their right knee, waited for the consul’s nod to rise up to the fight.
X. Afterwards, in the course of the battle, the Latines had the advantage in some places, on account of their superior numbers. The consul Manlius, who had heard the circumstances of his colleague’s death, and, as was justly due to him, expressed his sentiments of the glorious manner in which he died, both by tears, and by the praises to which it was entitled, hesitated a while whether it were yet time for the veterans to rise: then, judging it better to reserve them fresh for the decisive blow, he ordered the Accensi to advance from the rear, before the standards. On their moving forward, the Latines immediately called up their veterans, thinking their adversaries had done the same; and, when these, by fighting furiously for a considerable time, had fatigued themselves, and either broken off the points of their spears, or blunted them, yet continuing to drive back their opponents, thinking that the fate of the battle was nearly decided, and that they had come to the last line, then the consul called to the veterans, “Now arise, fresh as ye are, against men who are fatigued, and think on your country, your parents, your wives, and children; think on your consul, submitting to death to ensure your success.” The veterans rising, with their arms glittering, and receiving the Antepilani into the intervals of their ranks, presented a new face which was not foreseen; raising their shout, they broke the first line of the Latines; then, after slaying those who constituted the principal strength, forced their way, almost without a wound, through the other companies, as if through an unarmed crowd; and, such havoc did they make in their thickest bands, that they left alive scarce a fourth part of the enemy. The Samnites, who stood in order of battle, at a distance, close to the foot of the mountain, increased the fears of the Latines. But of all, whether citizens, or allies, the principal share of honour was due to the consuls; one of whom drew down, upon his own single person, all the dangers and threats denounced by the deities either of heaven or hell; while the other displayed such a degree both of courage and conduct, that it is universally agreed, among all who have transmitted to posterity an account of that battle, both Latines and Romans, that, on whichever side Manlius had held the command, victory must have attended. The Latines fled towards Minturnæ. The body of Decius was not found that day, night putting a stop to the search: on the following, it was discovered, pierced with a multitude of darts, amidst vast heaps of slaughtered enemies, and his funeral was solemnized, under the direction of his colleague, in a manner suited to his honourable death. It seems proper to mention here, that it is allowable for a consul, dictator, and prætor, when they devote the legions of their enemies, to devote along with them not themselves in particular, but any citizen whom they choose, out of a Roman legion regularly enrolled. “If the person devoted perishes, the performance is deemed complete. If he die not, then an image seven feet high, or more, must be buried in the earth, and a victim sacrificed, as an expiation. Where that image shall be buried, there it shall be unlawful for a Roman magistrate to pass.” But if he shall choose to devote himself, as Decius did, then “if he who devotes himself, die not, he shall not be capable of performing, with propriety, any act of worship, in behalf either of himself, or of the public. Let him have a right to devote his arms to Vulcan, or to any other god he shall do it, either by a victim, or in any other mode. The enemy should, if possible, be hindered from getting possession of the weapon, on which the consul stood when he uttered his imprecation: but if they chance to attain it, an atonement must be made to Mars by the sacrifices called Suovetaurilia.” Although the memory of every divine and human rite has been obliterated through the preference given to what is new and foreign, above that which is ancient and the growth of our own country, yet I thought it not amiss to recite these particulars, as they have been transmitted to us, and even in the very words in which they were expressed.
XI. Several authors relate, that the Samnites having waited to see the issue of the fight, came up, at length, with support to the Romans, after the battle was ended. In like manner, a reinforcement from Lavinium, after wasting time in deliberation, set out to the aid of the Latines, after they had been vanquished; and, when the first standards and part of the army had passed the gates, receiving information of the overthrow of the Latines, they faced about, and returned to the city; on which their prætor, named Millionius, is reported to have said, that “a high price must be paid to the Romans for so short a journey.” Such of the Latines as survived the fight, after being scattered through different roads, collected themselves in a body, and took refuge in the city of Vescia. There their general Numisius insisted, in their meetings, that “the variable chances of war had ruined both armies, by equal losses, and that the name only of victory was on the side of the Romans; and that they were, in fact, no better than defeated. The two pavilions of their consuls were polluted; one, by the parricide committed on a son; the other, by the death of a devoted consul: every part of their army had suffered great slaughter: their spearmen and their first ranks were cut to pieces; and, both before and behind their standards, multitudes were slain, until the veterans at last restored their cause. Now, although the forces of the Latines were reduced in an equal proportion, yet still, for the purpose of procuring reinforcements, either Latium, or the territory of the Volscians, was nearer than Rome. Wherefore, if they approved of it, he would with all speed call out the youth from the states of the Latines and Volscians; would march back to Capua, with an army prepared for action, and, while the Romans thought of nothing less than a battle, strike them with dismay by his unexpected arrival.” The misrepresentations contained in his letters, which he dispatched round Latium and the Volscian nation, were the more easily credited by the people, as they had not been present at the battle, and, in consequence, a tumultuary army, levied in haste, assembled together from all quarters. This body the consul Torquatus met at Trisanum, a place between Sinuessa and Minturnæ. Without waiting to choose ground for camps, both parties threw down their baggage in heaps, and immediately began an engagement, which decided the fate of the war: for the strength of the Latines was so entirely broken, that, on the consul leading his victorious army to ravage their country, they all submitted themselves to his mercy, and their submission was followed by that of the Campanians. A forfeiture of a portion of their territory was exacted from Latium and Capua. The Latine lands, to which the Privernian was added, and also the Falernian, which had belonged to the people of Campania, as far as the river Vulturnus, were distributed to the Roman commons. Of two acres, the portion allotted to each, three-fourths were assigned them in the Latine ground, the complement to be made up out of the Privernian. In the Falernian, three acres were given to each, the addition of one being made in consideration of the distance. Of the Latines, the Laurentians were exempted from punishment, as were the Campanian horsemen, because they had not joined in the revolt. An order was made, that the treaty should be renewed with the Laurentians, and from that time this has been annually done, on the tenth day after the Latine festival. The privileges of citizens were granted to the Campanian horsemen; and, as a monument thereof, they hung up a tablet in the temple of Castor at Rome. The people of Campania were also enjoined to pay them a yearly stipend, of four hundred and fifty denarii* each; their number amounted to one thousand six hundred.
XII. The war being thus brought to a conclusion, Titus Manlius, after distributing rewards and punishments, according to the merits and demerits of each, returned to Rome. On his arrival there, it appeared that none but the aged came out to meet him, and that the young, both then and during the whole of his life, detested and cursed him. The Antians, having made inroads on the territories of Ostia, Ardea, and Solonia, the consul Manlius, unable on account of the ill state of his health to act against them in person, nominated dictator Lucius Papirius Crassus, who happened at the time to be prætor, and he constituted Lucius Papirius Cursor master of the horse. Nothing worth mention was performed against the Antians by the dictator, although he kept his army in a fixed camp, in the territory of Antium, during several months. To this year, which was signalized by conquest over so many, and such powerful nations, and, besides, by the glorious death of one of the consuls, and the other’s unrelenting severity in command,Y.R.416. 336. by which he has been rendered for ever memorable, succeeded as consuls, Tiberius Æmilius Mamercinus, and Quintus Publilius Philo, who found not equal opportunity for the display of abilities; and were, besides, more attentive to their private interests, and the parties which divided the state, than to the public good. The Latines taking arms again, out of resentment for being deprived of their lands, were defeated, and driven out of their camp, in the plains of Ferentinum; and while Publilius, under whose conduct and auspices the battle had been fought, was employed there, in receiving the submissions of the Latine states, who had lost the greater part of their young men in the engagement, Æmilius led the army towards Pedum. The people of this city were supported by the Tiburtine, Prænestine, and Veliternian states: auxiliaries also came to them from Lavinium and Antium. Though the Romans had here the superiority, in several engagements, yet the most difficult part of the business remained still to be attempted, at the city of Pedum itself, and at the camp of the combined states, which lay close to the walls; when the consul, on hearing that a triumph had been decreed to his colleague, hastily left the war unfinished, and repaired to Rome to demand a triumph for himself, before he had obtained a victory. The senate, offended at his ambitious proceeding, refused to grant it, until Pedum should either surrender or be taken. This so alienated Æmilius from their interests, that he acted, during the remainder of his consulate, like a seditious tribune; for, as long as he continued in office, he never ceased criminating the patricians in harangues to the people, which his colleague, who was himself a plebeian, took no pains to prevent. The charges he brought against them were grounded on a scanty distribution of the Latine and Falernian lands: and, when the senate, wishing to put an end to the administration of the consuls, ordered a dictator to be nominated, to conduct the war against the Latines, who were again in arms, Æmilius, who was the acting consul at the time, nominated his colleague dictator, who appointed Junius Brutus master of the horse. The dictatorship of Publius was popular, for his discourses were replete with invectives against the patricians. He, at the same time, passed three laws, highly advantageous to the commons, and injurious to the nobility: one, that the orders of the commons should bind all the Romans; another, that the senate should, previous to the taking of the suffrages, declare their approbation of all laws, which should be passed in the assemblies of the centuries; the third, that one of the censors should, necessarily, be elected out of the commons, as it had been already established that both the consuls might be plebeians. In the judgment of the patricians, the detriment sustained that year, at home, from the behaviour of the consuls and dictator, was more than a counterbalance to the increase of empire, through their conduct and successes in war.
Y.R.417. 335.XIII. At the commencement of the next year, in which Lucius Furius Camillus, and Caius Mænius, were consuls, the senate, in order to render more conspicuous the conduct of Æmilius, in relinquishing the business of the campaign, warmly urged that men, arms, and every kind of force, should be employed to take Pedum, and demolish it. The new consuls were of course obliged to postpone every other business, and to set out thither. In Latium, the state of affairs was such, that the people could ill endure either war or peace; their strength was not equal to the support of a war, and peace they disdained, on the humiliating terms of losing their lands. They resolved, therefore, to steer a middle course; to keep within the walls of their towns, so that no provocation should be offered to the Romans, which might serve them as a pretext for hostilities; and in case they should hear of siege being laid to any of their possessions, then, that every one of the estates should be obliged to bring succour to the besieged. Pedum, however, received aid from few: the Tiburtians and Prænestians, whose territories lay nearest, arrived there; but the Aricians, Lavinians, and Veliternians, while forming a junction with the Volscians of Antium, at the river Astura, were unexpectedly attacked by Mænius, and routed. The Tiburtians, who were much the strongest body, Camillus fought at Pedum; and, though he had greater difficulties to surmount, yet the issue was equally successful. Some confusion happened, occasioned, principally, by a sudden eruption of the townsmen, during the fight: but Camillus, making part of his troops face about, not only drove them within the walls, but, after utterly discomfiting both themselves and their allies, took the city the same day by scalade. It was then resolved, their troops being flushed with victory, that they should proceed until they had made an entire conquest of all Latium. This plan they prosecuted without intermission, making themselves masters of some of the towns by force, and of others by capitulation, reducing the entire country to subjection. Then, leaving garrisons in the conquered places, they returned to Rome, to enjoy the triumph, to which all men allowed they were justly entitled. To a triumph was added the honour of having equestrian statues erected to them in the Forum, a compliment very rare in that age. Before the assembly for electing consuls was called for the ensuing year, Camillus moved the senate to take into consideration the conduct to be observed towards the states of Latium, and proceeded in this manner: “Conscript Fathers, Whatever was to be effected in Latium, by means of arms and military operations, has now, through the favour of the gods, and the valour of your soldiers, been fully accomplished. The armies of our enemies have been cut to pieces at Pedum, and the Astura; all the towns of Latium, and Antium, in the Volscian territory, either taken by storm, or surrendered, are held by your garrisons. It remains then to be considered, since the frequent rebellions of these people are the cause of so much trouble, by what means we may secure their quiet submission, and peaceable behaviour. The attainment of this end, the immortal gods have placed within your reach, insomuch that they have given you the power of determining whether Latium shall longer exist, or not. Ye can therefore ensure to yourselves perpetual peace, as far as regards the Latines, by the means either of severity, or of mercy. Do ye choose to adopt cruel measures against people vanquished, and submitting to your authority? Ye may utterly destroy all Latium, and make a desert of a country, from which, in many and difficult wars, ye have often been supplied with a powerful army of allies. Do ye choose, on the contrary, and in conformity to the practice of your ancestors, to augment the Roman state, by receiving the vanquished into the number of your citizens? Here is a large addition which ye may acquire, by means which will redound most highly to your glory. That government, which the subjects feel happy in obeying, stands certainly on the firmest of all foundations. But, whatever your determination may be, it is necessary that it be speedy: as all those states are, at present, suspended between hope and fear. It is therefore of importance that ye should be discharged as soon as possible, from all solicitude concerning them; and also, that, either by punishment or clemency, an immediate impression be made on their minds, before they recover from the state of insensibility in which the uncertainty of their fate has thrown them. It was our part to bring the business to such an issue, that your deliberations concerning it should be unrestrained in every particular. It is now yours to determine what is most advantageous to yourselves and the commonwealth.”
XIV. The principal members of the senate highly approved of the consul’s statement of the business, on the whole: but said, that “as the states were differently circumstanced, it would conduce to an easy adjustment of the plan, so as that their resolutions should be conformable to the several merits of each, if he put the question, on the case of each state, separately.” The question was accordingly put, and a decree passed with respect to each singly. The Lanuvians were admitted members of the state; the exercise of their public worship was restored to them, with a provision, that the grove and temple of Juno Sospita should be in common, between the burghers* of Lanuvium, and the Roman people. On the same terms with these, the Aricians, Nomentans, and Pedans, were received into the number of citizens. To the Tusculans, the rights of citizens, of which they were already in possession, were continued; and the guilt of the rebellion, instead of being imputed to disaffection in the state, was thrown on a few incendiaries. On the Veliternians, who were Roman citizens of an old standing, in resentment of their having so often arisen in rebellion, severe vengeance was inflicted: their walls were razed, and their senate driven into banishment; they were also enjoined to dwell on the farther side of the Tiber, with a denunciation that if any of them should be caught on the hither side of that river, the fine to be paid for his discharge should be no less than one thousand asses* , and that the person apprehending him should not release him from confinement, until the money should be paid. Into the lands, which had belonged to their senators, colonists were sent, from the addition of whose numbers Velitræ recovered the appearance of its former populousness. To Antium, also, a new colony was sent, permission being granted, at the same time, to the Antians, of having themselves enrolled therein if they chose it. The ships of war were taken from them, and the people wholly interdicted from meddling with maritime affairs; but the rights of citizens were granted to them. The Tiburtians and Prænestines were amerced in a portion of their lands; not merely on account of their recent crime of rebellion, common to them with the rest of the Latines, but because they had formerly, in disgust at the Roman government, associated in arms with the Gauls, a nation of savages. From the other states they took away the privileges of intermarriage, commerce, and holding assemblies. To the Campanians, in compliment to their horsemen, who had refused to join in rebellion with the Latines, as likewise to the Fundans and Formians, because the troops had always found a safe and quiet passage through their territories, the freedom of the state was granted, without right of suffrage. The states of Cumæ and Suessula, it was decreed, should be placed on the same footing, and enjoy the same privileges, as Capua. Of the ships of the Antians, some were drawn up into the docks at Rome; the rest were burned, and with the prows of these a pulpit, built in the Forum, was ordered to be decorated, hence called Rostra.*
Y.R.418. 334.XV. During the succeeding consulate of Caius Sulpicius Longus, and Publius Ælius Pætus, whilst all the neighbouring states were sincerely disposed, not more through consideration of the power of the Romans, than grateful sentiments inspired by their generous conduct, to cultivate peace with them, a quarrel broke out between the Sidicinians and the Auruncians. The latter, having been formerly, on their submission, admitted into alliance, by Titus Manlius, in his consulate, had ever since demeaned themselves peaceably, for which reason they were more justly entitled to expect assistance from the Romans. But, before the consuls led out the army, (for the senate had ordered the Auruncians to be supported,) intelligence was brought that these, through fear, had deserted their city, and, removing with their wives and children, had fortified Suessa, which is now called Aurunca, and that their former dwellings and fortifications were demolished by the Sidicinians. The senate, highly displeased with the consuls, in consequence of whose dilatory proceedings their allies had been disappointed of support, ordered a dictator to be nominated. Caius Claudius Regillensis, being accordingly appointed, chose Caius Claudius Hortator master of the horse. A scruple afterwards arose concerning the dictator, and the augurs having declared his creation informal, both he and the master of the horse abdicated their offices. This year, Minucia, a vestal, falling at first under suspicion of incontinence, because of her dressing in a style of elegance beyond what became her situation, and being afterwards prosecuted before the pontiffs, on the testimony of a slave, was, by their decree, ordered to refrain from meddling in sacred rites, and to retain her slaves under her own power.* Being afterwards brought to trial, she was buried alive, at the Colline gate, on the right hand of the causeway in the field of wickedness, which was so denominated, I suppose, from her crime. The same year Quintus Publilius Philo was the first plebeian elected prætor. He was opposed by the consul Sulpicius, who refused to admit him as a candidate; but the senate, having failed of carrying their point, with respect to the highest offices, showed the less earnestness about the prætorship.
Y.R.419. 333.XVI. The following year, wherein Lucius Papirius Crassus, and Cæso Duilius were consuls, was distinguished by a war with the Ausonians, which deserves notice, rather as they were a new enemy, than on account of its importance. This people inhabited the city Cales: they had united their arms with their neighbours, the Sidicinians, yet the forces of the two nations were defeated, in a single battle, without any great difficulty. Their cities being near at hand, induced them to quit the field the earlier, and also afforded them shelter after their flight. However, the senate did not, on this, desist from the prosecution of the war, being provoked at the Sidicinians having so often taken arms against them, either as principals or auxiliaries.Y.R.420. 332. They therefore exerted their utmost endeavours to raise to the consulship, the fourth time, Marcus Valerius Corvus, the greatest general of that age. The colleague joined with him was Marcus Atilius Regulus; and, lest chance might frustrate their wishes, a request was made to the consuls, that, without casting lots, that province might be assigned to Corvus. Receiving the victorious army from the former consuls, he marched directly to Cales, where the war had its rise: and having, at the first onset, routed the enemy, who were disheartened by the recollection of the former engagement, he directed his operations against the town itself. Such was the ardour of the soldiers, that they wanted to proceed directly up to the walls with ladders, asserting, that they would quickly scale them; but that being a hazardous attempt, Corvus chose to effect his purpose by the labour of his men, rather than at the expense of so much danger to them; he therefore formed a rampart, prepared machines, and advanced towers up to the walls. But an opportunity, which accidentally presented itself, prevented his having occasion to use them: for Marcus Fabius, a Roman, who was prisoner there, having broken his chains, while his guards were inattentive on a festival day, by fastening a rope to one of the battlements, let himself down among the Roman works, and persuaded the general to make an assault on the enemy, while, in consequence of feasting and drinking, they were disqualified for action. And thus the Ausonians, together with their city, were captured with as little difficulty as they had been defeated in the field. The booty found there was immense, and the legions, leaving a garrison at Cales, returned to Rome. The consul triumphed in pursuance of a decree of the senate; and, in order that Atilius should not be without a share of honour, both the consuls were ordered to lead the troops against the Sidicinians. But first, in obedience to the senate, they nominated dictator, for the purpose of holding the elections, Lucius Æmilius Hamercinus, who named Quintus Publilius Philo master of the horse.Y.R.421. 331. The dictator presiding at the election, Titus Veturius and Spurius Postumius were created consuls. Notwithstanding the war with the Sidicinians remained unfinished, yet being desirous to prevent, by an act of generosity, the wishes of the commons, they proposed to the senate the sending a colony to Cales; and a decree being passed that two thousand five hundred men should be enrolled for that purpose, they constituted Cæso Duilius, Titus Quintius, and Marcus Fabius, commissioners for conducting the colony, and distributing the lands.
XVII. The new consuls, receiving from their predecessors the command of the army, marched into the enemy’s country, and carried devastation even to the walls of their capital. There, because it was expected that the Sidicinians, who had collected a vast body of forces, would make a vigorous struggle in support of their last hope, and a report also prevailing that Samnium was preparing for hostilities, the consuls, by direction of the senate, nominated dictator, Publius Cornelius Rufinus, who appointed Marcus Antonius his master of the horse. A doubt afterwards arose, with respect to the regularity of their creation, on which they abdicated their offices, and a pestilence ensuing, recourse was had to an interregnum, as if the auspices of every office had been infected by that irregularity. Under Marcus Valerius Corvus, the fifteenth interrex from the commencement of the interregnum,Y.R.422. 330. consuls were at last elected, Aulus Cornelius a second time, and Cneius Domitius. While things were in a state of tranquillity, a report, which was spread, that the Gauls were in arms, produced the same effect which a war with that people usually did, a resolution to create a dictator: Marcus Papirius Crassus was nominated to that office, and Publius Valerius Publicola to that of master of the horse; and, while they were busy in levying troops, with greater diligence than would have been deemed requisite in the case of war with any neighbouring state, intelligence was brought, by scouts dispatched for the purpose, that all was quiet among the Gauls. Suspicions were also entertained that Samnium still continued, during this year, in a disposition to raise new disturbances; for which reason, the Roman troops were not withdrawn from the country of the Sidicinians. An attack made by Alexander king of Epirus, on the Lucanians, drew the Samnites to that quarter, where those two nations fought a pitched battle with the king, as he was making a descent on the side of the country adjoining Pæstum. Alexander, having gained the victory, concluded a treaty of amity with the Romans; with what degree of faith he would have observed it, had the rest of his enterprises proved successful, it is hard to say. The census, or general survey, was performed this year, and the new citizens rated; on whose account, two additional tribes were constituted, the Mæcian and Scaptian, by the censors Quintus Publilius Philo, and Spurius Postumius. The Acerrans were enrolled as Romans, in pursuance of a law introduced by the prætor, Lucius Papirius, which granted them the privileges of citizens, excepting the right of suffrage. Such were the transactions, foreign and domestic, of this year.
Y.R.423. 329.XVIII. The following year exhibited a shocking scene, whether occasioned by the intemperature of the air, or by the wickedness of the people. The consuls were Marcus Claudius Marcellus, and Caius Valerius, either Flaccus or Potitus, for I find these different surnames of the consul in the annals; it is, however, a matter of little consequence, which of them be the true one. There is another account, which I could heartily wish were false: that those persons, whose deaths distinguished this year as disastrous, on account of the extraordinary mortality, were cut off by poison. Although this particular be not mentioned by all the historians of this period, yet, that I may not detract from the credit of any writer, I shall relate the matter as it has been handed down to us. While the principal persons of the state died, by disorders of the same kind, and which were attended with the same issue in every case, a certain maid-servant undertook, before Quintus Fabius Maximus, curule ædile, to discover the cause of the general malady, provided security were given her on the public faith, that she should not be a sufferer in consequence. Fabius immediately reported the affair to the consuls, and the consuls to the senate, and, by order of that body, the public faith was pledged to the informer. She then stated to them, that the calamity, which afflicted the nation, was caused by the wicked contrivances of certain women; that some matrons were, at the time, preparing drugs for the purpose; and that, if they would be pleased to go along with her without delay, they might detect them in the fact. Accordingly, they followed the informant, and found several women preparing drugs, and also quantities of the same laid up, which being brought into the Forum, and the matrons, in whose custody they were found, to the number of twenty, being summoned by a beadle, two of them, Cornelia and Sergia, both of patrician families, asserted that those drugs were wholesome; while the informant maintained the contrary; and insisted on their drinking them, in order to convict her of having invented a falsehood. On this, having taken time to confer together, and in the open view of all, a space being cleared for them, they drank off the preparation, and all perished by means of their own wicked device. Their attendants, being instantly seized, gave information against a great number of matrons, of whom no less than one hundred and seventy were condemned. Until that day, no person had ever been tried at Rome for poisoning: the affair was deemed a prodigy, and seemed more the result of madness, than of vicious depravity. Wherefore, mention being found in the annals, that formerly, on occasion of the secessions of the commons, (a disastrous time,) the ceremony of driving the nail had been performed by a dictator, and that, by that expiation, the minds of men, which were distracted by discord, had been restored to their proper state, it was resolved that a dictator should be nominated for the purpose.Y.R.424. 328. Cneius Quintius being accordingly created, appointed Lucius Valerius master of the horse, and, as soon as the nail was driven, they abdicated their offices.
Y.R.425. 327.XIX. Lucius Papirius Crassus, and Lucius Plautius Venno were the consuls for the next year; in the beginning of which, ambassadors came to Rome from Fabrateria and Polusca, two Volscian states, praying to be admitted into alliance; and promising, that if they were protected against the arms of the Samnites, they would ever continue faithful and obedient subjects to the government of the Roman people. On this, ambassadors were sent by the senate, to require of the Samnites, that they should offer no violence to the territories of those states; and this embassy produced the desired effect, rather because the Samnites were not yet prepared for war, than that they were desirous of peace. This year, war broke out with the people of Privernum: these were supported by inhabitants of Fundi, of which country was also the commander in chief, Vitruvius Vaccus, a man of considerable note, not only at home, but at Rome also. He had a house on the Palatine hill, on the spot which, after the buildings were razed, and the ground thrown open, was called Vacciprata* . He was committing great depredations in the districts of Setia, Norba, and Cora; to oppose him, therefore, Lucius Papirius began his march, and took post a small distance from his camp. Vitruvius neither took the prudent resolution of remaining within his trenches, in the presence of an enemy, his superior in strength, nor had he the courage to fight at any great distance from them. Without either judgment in forming, or boldness in executing his plan, he entered on an engagement, while the last of his troops had scarcely got out of the gate of the camp, and his men were in a disposition rather to fly back thither, than to face the enemy. After some slight efforts, he was compelled to give up the contest entirely; but, by reason of the shortness of the distance, and the ease with which he could regain his camp, he saved his army, without much difficulty from any great loss, few falling either in the action or in the retreat. As soon as it grew dark, they removed in haste and disorder to Privernum, choosing to entrust their safety to walls, rather than to a rampart. The other consul, Plautius, after wasting the country on every side, and driving off the spoil, led his army from Privernum into the territory of Fundi. On entering the borders, he was met by the senate of that state, who declared, that “they came not to intercede for Vitruvius, and those who had followed his faction, but for the people of Fundi, who, in the judgment of Vitruvius himself, were clear from all blame of the war, as he showed by repairing for safety, after his defeat, to Privernum, and not to Fundi, his native city. At Privernum, therefore, the enemies of the Roman people were to be sought, and punished; who, regardless of their duty to both countries, had revolted at once from Fundi and from Rome. The Fundians were in a state of peace, their minds were Roman, and impressed with a grateful remembrance of the privilege of citizens imparted to them: they besought the consul that he would not treat as enemies an unoffending people; assuring him, that their lands, their city, and their persons, were, and ever should be, in the disposal of the Roman people.” The consul commended their conduct; and, dispatching letters to Rome, that the Fundians had preserved their allegiance, turned his march to Privernum. Claudius writes, that he first inflicted punishment on those who had been the principal abettors of the conspiracy; that three hundred and fifty were sent in chains to Rome; but that the senate did not accept their submission, because they thought that the people of Fundi meant, by consigning to punishment these men, who were mean and indigent, to secure impunity to themselves.
XX. While the two consular armies were employed in the siege of Privernum, one of the consuls was recalled to Rome, to preside at the elections. This year goals were first erected in the circus. While the attention of the public was still occupied by the Privernian war, it was forcibly attracted by an alarming report of the Gauls being in arms, a matter at no time slighted by the senate.Y.R.426. 326. The new consuls, therefore, Lucius Æmilius Mamercinus, and Caius Plautius, on the calends of July, the very day on which they entered into office, received orders to settle the provinces immediately between themselves. Mamercinus, to whom the Gallic war fell, was directed to levy troops, without admitting any plea of immunity; nay, it is said, that even the rabble of handicrafts, and those of sedentary trades, of all the worst qualified for military service, were called out; by which means a vast army was collected at Veii, in readiness to meet the Gauls. It was not thought proper to proceed to a greater distance, lest the Gauls might, by some other route, arrive at the city without being observed. In the course of a few days it was found, on a careful inquiry, that every thing on that side was quiet at the time; and the whole force, which was to have opposed the Gauls, was then turned against Privernum. Of the issue of the business, there are two different accounts: some say, that the city was taken by storm; and that Vitruvius fell alive into the hands of the conquerors: others, that the townsmen, to avoid the extremities of a storm, presented the rod of peace, and surrendered to the consul; and that Vitruvius was delivered up by his troops. The senate, being consulted with respect to Vitruvius and the Privernians, sent directions, that the consul Plautius should demolish the walls of Privernum, and, leaving a strong garrison there, come home to enjoy the honour of a triumph; at the same time ordering that Vitruvius should be kept in prison, until the return of the consul, and that he should then be beaten with rods, and put to death. His house, which stood on the Palatine hill, they commanded to be razed to the ground, and his effects to be devoted to Semo Sancus. With the money produced by the sale of them, brazen globes were formed, and placed in the chapel of Sancus, opposite to the temple of Quirinus. As to the senate of Privernum, it was commanded, that every person who had continued to act as a senator of Privernum, after the revolt from the Romans, should reside on the farther side of the Tiber, under the same restrictions as those of Velitræ. After the passing of these decrees, there was no farther mention of the Privernians, until Plautius had triumphed. When that ceremony was over, and Vitruvius, with his accomplices, had been put to death, the consul thought that the people’s resentment being now fully gratified by the sufferings of the guilty, he might safely introduce the business of the Privernian state, which he did in the following manner: “Conscript Fathers, since the authors of the revolt have received, both from the immortal gods and from you, the punishment due to their crime, what do ye judge proper to be done with respect to the guiltless multitude? For my part, although my duty consists rather in collecting the opinions of others, than in offering my own, yet, when I reflect that the Privernians are situated in the neighbourhood of the Samnites, with whom it is exceedingly uncertain how long we shall be at peace, I cannot help wishing, that as little ground of animosity as possible may be left between them and us.”
XXI. The affair naturally admitted of a diversity of opinions, while each, agreeably to his particular temper, recommended either severity or lenity; and the debate was still farther perplexed by the behaviour of one of the Privernian ambassadors, more conformable to the prospects to which he had been born, than to the insuperable exigency of the present juncture: for being asked, by one of the advocates for severity, “what punishment he though the Privernians deserved?” he answered, “such as those deserve, who deem themselves worthy of liberty.” The consul observing, that, by this stubborn answer, the adversaries of the cause of the Privernians were the more exasperated against them, and wishing, by a question of favourable import, to draw from him a more conciliating reply, said to him, “what if we remit the punishment, in what manner may we expect that ye will observe the peace which shall be established between us?” He replied, “if the peace which ye grant us be a good one, inviolably and eternally; if bad, for no long continuance.” On this, several exclaimed, that the Privernian menaced them, and not in ambiguous terms; and that such expressions were calculated to excite rebellion. But the more reasonable part of the senate interpreted his answers more favourably, and said, that “the words which they had heard were those of a man, and of one who knew what it was to be free. Could it be believed that any people, or even any individual, would remain, longer than necessity constrained, in a situation which he felt painful? That the terms of a peace were faithfully observed, only when they were voluntarily accepted; but that it was absurd to expect fidelity, when attempts were made to establish slavery.” In this opinion they were led to concur, principally, by the consul himself, who frequently observed to the consulars, who had proposed the different resolutions, in such a manner as to be heard by the rest, that, “surely those men who thought of nothing but liberty, were worthy of being made Romans.” They consequently carried their cause in the senate: and, moreover, by direction of that body, a proposal was laid before the people, that the freedom of the state should be granted to the Privernians. This year a colony of three hundred was sent to Anxur, and received two acres of land each.
XXII. The year following, in which the consuls were Publius Plautius Proculus,Y.R.427. 325. and Publius Cornelius Scapula, was remarkable for no one transaction, civil or military, except the sending of a colony to Fregellæ, a district which had belonged to the Sidicinians, and afterwards to the Volscians; and a distribution of meat to the people, made by Marcus Flavius, on occasion of the funeral of his mother. There were many who represented, that, under the appearance of doing honour to his parent, he was making recompence to the people, for having acquitted him, when prosecuted by the ædiles on a charge of having debauched a married woman. This donative, intended as a return for favours shewn on the trial, proved also the means of procuring him the honour of a public office; for, at the next election of plebeian tribunes, though absent, he was preferred before the candidates who solicited in person. The city Palæpolis was situated at no great distance from the spot where Neapolis now stands. The two cities were inhabited by one people: these came from Cumæ, and the Cumans derive their origin from Chalcis in Eubœa. By means of the fleet, in which they had been conveyed hither, they possessed great power on the coast of the sea, near which they dwelt. Their first landing was on the islands of Ænaria, and the Pithacusæ: afterwards they ventured to transfer their settlement to the continent. This state, relying on their own strength, and also on the disposition of the Samnites, to come to a rupture with the Romans; or, encouraged by the report of a pestilence, having attacked the city of Rome, committed various acts of hostility against the Romans settled in the Campanian and Falernian territories. Wherefore, in the succeeding consulate of Lucius Cornelius, and Quintus Publilius Philo a second time,Y.R.428. 324. heralds being sent to Palæpolis to demand satisfaction, and a haughty answer being returned by these Greeks, a race more magnanimous in words than in action, the people, in pursuance of the direction of the senate, ordered war to be declared against them. On settling the provinces between the consuls, the war against the Greeks fell to Publilius. Cornelius, with another army, was appointed to watch the motions of the Samnites: and a report prevailing, of an expected revolt in Campania, in which case they intended to march their troops thither, that was judged the properest station for him.
XXIII. The senate received information, from both the consuls, that there was very little hope of peace with the Samnites. Publilius informed them, that two thousand soldiers from Nolæ, and four thousand of the Samnites, had been received into Palæpolis, a measure rather forced on the Greeks by the Nolans, than agreeable to their inclination. Cornelius wrote, that a levy of troops had been ordered, that all Samnium was in motion, and that the neighbouring states of Privernum, Fundi, and Formiæ, were openly solicited to join them. It was thought proper, that, before hostilities were commenced, ambassadors should be sent to expostulate on these subjects with the Samnites, who answered in a haughty manner; they even went so far as to accuse the Romans of behaving injuriously towards them; but, nevertheless, they took pains to acquit themselves of the charges made against them, asserting, that “their state had not given either counsel or aid to the Greeks, nor used any solicitations, on their behalf, to the Fundans, or Formians: for, if they were disposed to war, they had not the least reason to be diffident of their own strength. However, they could not dissemble, that it gave great offence to the state of the Samnites, that Fregellæ, a town which they had taken from the Volscians, and demolished, should have been rebuilt by the Romans; and that they should have established a colony within the territory of the Samnites, to which their colonists gave the name of Fregellæ. This injury and affront, if not done away by the authors, they were determined themselves to remove, by the most effectual means in their power.” One of the Roman ambassadors proposed to discuss the matter, before their common allies and friends; on which their magistrate said, “Why do we disguise our sentiments? Romans, no conferences of ambassadors, nor arbitration of any person whatever, can terminate our differences; but the plains of Campania, in which we must fight: let our armies, therefore, meet between Capua and Suessula; and there let us decide, whether the Samnite, or the Roman, shall hold the sovereignty of Italy.” To this the ambassadors of the Romans replied, that “they would go, not whither their enemy called, but whither their commanders should lead.” In the mean time, Publilius, by seizing an advantageous post between Palæpolis and Neapolis, had cut off the confederates from that interchange of mutual aid, which they had hitherto afforded each other, when either place was pressed. The day of the elections approached; and, as it was highly inexpedient that Publilius should be recalled, when on the point of assailing the enemy’s walls, and in daily expectation of gaining possession of their city, application was made to the tribunes, to recommend to the people the passing of an order, that Publilius Philo, when his year of office should expire, might continue in command, as pro-consul, until the war with the Greeks should be finished. A letter was dispatched to Lucius Cornelius, with orders to name a dictator; for it was not thought proper that the consul should be recalled, while he was employed in vigorously prosecuting the business of the campaign, and had already carried the war into Samnium. He nominated Marcus Claudius Marcellus, who appointed Spurius Postumius master of the horse. The elections, however, were not held by the dictator, because the regularity of his appointment was called in question; and the augurs, being consulted, pronounced that it appeared defective. The tribunes inveighed against this proceeding, as dangerous and dishonourable; “for it was not probable,” they said, “that a fault in the appointment could have been discovered, as the consul, rising in the night, had nominated the dictator in private, and while every thing was still* ; nor had the said consul, in any of his letters, either public or private, made any mention of such a thing; nor did any person whatever appear, who said that he saw or heard any thing which could vitiate the auspices. Neither could the augurs, sitting at Rome, divine what inauspicious circumstance had occurred to the consul in the camp. Who did not plainly perceive, that the dictator’s being a plebeian, was the defect which the augurs had discovered?” These, and other arguments, were urged, in vain, by the tribunes: the affair ended in an interregnum. At last, after the elections had been adjourned repeatedly, on one pretext or another, the fourteenth interrex,Y.R.429. 323. Lucius Æmilius, elected consuls Caius Pætelius, and Lucius Papirius Mugillanus, or Cursor, as I find him named, in some annals.
XXIV. Historians relate, that, in this year, Alexandria, in Egypt, was founded; and that Alexander, king of Epirus, being slain by a Lucanian exile, verified, in the circumstances of his death, the prediction of Jupiter of Dodona. At the time when he was invited into Italy by the Tarentines, he received a caution, from that oracle, to beware of the Acherusian waters, and the city Pandosia, for there were fixed the limits of his destiny. For that reason he made the greater haste to pass over to Italy, in order to be at as great a distance as possible from the city Pandosia, in Epirus, and the river Acheron, which, after flowing through Molossis, runs into the lakes called infernal, and is received into the Thesprotian gulf. But, as it frequently happens, that men, by endeavouring to shun their fate, run directly upon it, after having often defeated the armies of Bruttium and Lucania, and taken Heraclea, a colony of the Tarentines, Potentia and Metapontum from the Lucanians, Terina from the Bruttians, and several other cities of the Messapians and Lucanians; and, having sent into Epirus three hundred illustrious families, whom he intended to keep as hostages, he posted his troops on three hills, which stood at a small distance from each other, not far from the city Pandosia, and close to the frontiers of the Bruttians and Lucanians, in order that he might thence make incursions into every part of the enemy’s country. At that time, he kept about his person two hundred Lucanian exiles, whom he considered as faithful attendants, but whose fidelity, according to the general disposition of people of that description, was ever ready to follow the changes of fortune. A continual fall of rain spread such an inundation over all the plains, as cut off, from the three separate divisions of the army, all communication. In this state, the two parties, in neither of which the king was present, were suddenly attacked and overpowered by the enemy, who, after putting them to the sword, employed their whole force in blockading the post, where Alexander commanded in person. From this place the Lucanian exiles sent emissaries to their countrymen, and, stipulating a safe return for themselves, promised to deliver the king, either alive or dead, into their power. But he, bravely resolving to make an extraordinary effort, at the head of a chosen band, broke through the midst of their forces; engaged singly, and slew, the general of the Lucanians, and, collecting together his men, who had been scattered in the retreat, arrived at a river, where the ruins of a bridge, which had been recently broken by the violence of the flood, pointed out his road. Here, while the soldiers were fording the river on a very uneven bottom, one of them, almost spent with fatigue and apprehension, cried out, as a reflection on the odious name of it,—“You are justly named Acheros (dismal:)” which expression reached the King’s ears, and instantly recalling to his mind the fate denounced on him, he halted, hesitating whether he should cross over or not. Then Sotimus, one of the royal band of youths which attended him, asked why he delayed in such a critical moment; and showed him, that the Lucanians were watching an opportunity to perpetrate some act of treachery: whereupon the king, looking back, and seeing them coming towards him in a body, drew his sword, and pushed on his horse, through the middle of the river. He had now reached the shallow, when a Lucanian exile, from a distance, transfixed him with a javelin: after his fall, the current carried down his lifeless body, with the weapon sticking in it, to the posts of the enemy: there it was mangled, in a manner shocking to relate; for, dividing it in the middle, they sent one half to Consentia, and kept the other, as a subject of mockery, to themselves. While they were throwing darts and stones at it, a woman, mixing with the crowd, (who expressed a degree of barbarous rage which could scarce be conceived to exist in human breasts,) prevailed on them to stop for a moment. She then told them, with tears in her eyes, that she had a husband and children, prisoners among the enemy; and that she hoped to be able, with the King’s body, (if they would grant it to her,) however disfigured, to ransom her friends: this put an end to their outrages. The remnants of his limbs were buried at Consentia, entirely through the care of the woman; and his bones were sent to Metapontum, to the enemy, from whence they were conveyed to Epirus, to his wife Cleopatra, and his sister Olympias; the latter of whom was the mother, the former the sister, of Alexander the Great. Such was the melancholy end of Alexander of Epirus; of which, although fortune did not allow him to engage in hostilities with the Romans, yet, as he waged war in Italy, I have thought it proper to give this brief account. This year, the fifth time since the building of the city, the Lectisternium was performed at Rome, for procuring the favour of the same deities, to whom it was addressed before.
XXV. The new consuls having, by order of the people, declared war against the Samnites, exerted themselves in more formidable preparations of every kind, than had been made against the Greeks; and, about the same time, received a new accession of strength, from a quarter where they had no such expectation. The Lucanians and Apulians, nations who, until that time, had no kind of intercourse with the Roman people, proposed an alliance with them, promising a supply of men and arms for the war: a treaty of friendship was accordingly concluded. At the same time their affairs went on successfully in Samnium. Three towns fell into their hands, Allifæ, Callifæ, and Ruffrium; and the adjoining country, to a great extent, was, on the first arrival of the consuls, laid entirely waste. As the commencement of their operations, on this side, was attended with so much success, so the war, in the other quarter, where the Greeks were held besieged, now drew towards a conclusion. For, besides the communication between the two posts of the enemy being cut off, by the besiegers having possession of part of the works through which it had been carried on, they now suffered, within the walls, hardships far more grievous than those with which they were threatened, being insulted in the persons of their wives and children, and feeling all the extremities usual in the sacking of cities. When, therefore, intelligence arrived, that reinforcements were to come from Tarentum, and from the Samnites, all agreed that there were more of the latter already within the walls than they wished; but the young men of Tarentum, who were Greeks as well as themselves, they earnestly longed for, as they hoped to be enabled, by their means, to oppose the Samnites and Nolans, which they deemed no less necessary than resisting their Roman enemies. At last a surrender to the Romans appeared to be the lightest evil. Charilaus and Nymphius, the two principal men in the state, consulting together on the subject, settled the part which each was to act; it was, that one should desert to the Roman general, and the other stay behind to manage affairs in the city, so as to facilitate the execution of their plan. Charilaus was the person who came to Publilius Philo; he told him, that “he had taken a resolution, which he hoped would prove advantageous, fortunate, and happy to the Palæpolitans, and to the Roman people, of delivering the fortifications into his hands. Whether he should appear, by that deed, to have betrayed, or preserved his country, depended on the honour of the Romans. That, for himself, in particular, he neither stipulated nor requested any thing; but, in behalf of the state, he requested, rather than stipulated, that, in case the design should succeed, the Roman people would consider, more especially, the zeal and hazard with which it sought a renewal of their friendship, than its folly and rashness in deviating from its duty.” He was commended by the general, and received a body of three thousand soldiers, with which he was to seize on that part of the city which was possessed by the Samnites, which detachment was commanded by Lucius Quintius, military tribune.
XXVI. In the mean time, Nymphius, on his part, artfully addressing himself to the commander of the Samnites, prevailed upon him, as all the troops of the Romans were employed either about Palæpolis, or in Samnium, to allow him to sail round with the fleet, to the territory of Rome, where he undertook to ravage, not only the sea coast, but the country adjoining the very city. But, in order to avoid observation, it was necessary, he told him, to set out by night, and to launch the ships immediately. To effect this with the greater dispatch, all the young Samnites, except the necessary guards of the city, were sent to the shore. While Nymphius wasted the time there, giving contradictory orders, designedly to create confusion, which was increased by the darkness, and by the crowd, which was so numerous as to obstruct each other’s operations, Charilaus, according to the plan concerted, was admitted, by his associates, into the city; and, having filled the higher parts of it with Roman soldiers, he ordered them to raise a shout; on which the Greeks, who had received previous directions from their leaders, kept themselves quiet. The Nolans fled through the opposite part of the town, by the road leading to Nola. The flight of the Samnites, who were shut out from the city, was easier, but had a more disgraceful appearance; for they returned to their homes without arms, stripped of their baggage, and destitute of every thing; all, in short, belonging to them being left with their enemies; so that they were objects of ridicule, not only to foreigners, but even to their own countrymen. I know that there is another account of this matter, which represents the town to have been betrayed by the Samnites; but I have chosen to follow the writers most worthy of credit: besides, the treaty of Neapolis, for to that place the seat of government of the Greeks was then transferred, renders it more probable, that the renewal of friendship was voluntary on their side. Publilius had a triumph decreed him, because people were well convinced, that it was his conduct of the siege which reduced the enemy to submission. This man was distinguished by two extraordinary incidents, of which he afforded the first instance: a prolongation of command, never before granted to any one: and a triumph after the expiration of his office.
XXVII. Another war, soon after, arose with the Greeks of the other coast. The Tarentines having, for a considerable time, buoyed up the state of Palæpolis with delusive hopes of assistance, when they understood that the Romans had gotten possession of that city, as if they were the persons who had suffered the disappointment, and not the authors of it, they inveighed against the Palæpolitans, and became furious in their anger and malice towards the Romans; to which they were farther incited by receiving information that the Lucanians and Apulians had joined them; for a treaty of alliance had been this year concluded with both these nations: “The business,” they observed, “was now brought almost to their doors; and such would soon be the state of affairs, that they must deal with the Romans as enemies, or receive them as masters: that, in fact, their interests were at stake, on the issue of the war of the Samnites, the only nation which continued to make opposition; and that with power very inadequate, since they were deserted by the Lucanians: these however might yet be brought back, and induced to renounce the Roman alliance, if proper skill were used, in sowing dissension between them.” These reasonings being readily adopted, by people who wished for a change, they procured, for money, some young Lucanians of considerable note in their country, but devoid of honour, to bring about their design; these, having lacerated each other’s bodies with stripes, came naked into a public meeting of their countrymen, exclaiming that, because they had ventured to go into the Roman camp, they had been thus beaten with rods, by order of the consul, and had hardly escaped the loss of their heads. Circumstances, so shocking in their nature, carrying strong proofs of the ill-treatment, none of artifice, the people were so irritated, that, by their clamours, they compelled the magistrates to call together the senate; and whilst some stood round that assembly, insisting on a declaration of war against the Romans, others ran different ways to rouse to arms the multitude residing in the country. Thus the minds, even of rational men, being hurried into imprudence by the general uproar, a decree was passed, that the alliance with the Samnites should be renewed, and ambassadors sent for that purpose. This hasty proceeding surprised the Samnites, who, however, insisted, that they should not only give hostages, but also receive garrisons into their fortified places; and they, blinded by resentment, refused no terms. In a little time after, on the authors of the imposition removing to Tarentum, the whole came to light. But, as they had given all power out of their own hands, nothing was left them but unavailing repentance.
XXVIII. This year proved, as it were, a new æra of liberty to the Roman commons; a stop being put to the practice of confining debtors. This alteration of the law was effected in consequence of the behaviour of a usurer, in which lust and cruelty were equally conspicuous. His name was Lucius Papirius. To him, one Caius Publilius having surrendered his person to be confined for a debt due by his father, his youth and beauty, which ought to have excited commiseration, operated on the other’s mind as incentives to barbarity. He first attempted to seduce the young man by impure discourses; but finding that his ears were shocked at their infamous tendency, he then endeavoured to terrify him by threats, and reminded him frequently of his situation. At last convinced of his resolution to act conformably to his honourable birth, rather than to his present condition, he ordered him to be stripped and scourged. With the marks of the rods imprinted in his flesh, the youth rushed out into the public street, uttering loud complaints of the depravedness and inhumanity of the usurer. On which a vast number of people, moved by compassion for his early age, and indignation at his barbarous treatment, reflecting at the same time what might be the lot of themselves, and of their children, flocked together into the Forum, and from thence, in a body, to the senate-house. When the consuls were obliged, by the sudden tumult, to call a meeting of the senate, the people, falling at the feet of each of the senators, as they were going into the senate-house, presented to their view the back of Caius torn with stripes. On that day, in consequence of the outrageous conduct of an individual, one of the strongest bonds of credit was broken; and the consuls were commanded to propose to the people, that no person should be held in fetters or stocks, except convicted of a crime, and in order to punishment; but that, for money due, the goods of the debtor, not his person, should be answerable. Thus the confined debtors were released; and provision made, for the time to come, that they should not be liable to confinement.
XXIX. In the course of this year, while the war with the Samnites was sufficient in itself to give full employment to the senate, besides the sudden defection of the Lucanians, and the intrigues of the Tarentines, by which it had been effected, they found another source of uneasiness in an union formed by the state of the Vestinians with the Samnites. Which event, though it continued, during the present year, to be the general subject of conversation, without coming under any public discussion, appeared so important to the consuls of the year following, Lucius Furius Camillus a second time, and Decius Junius,Y.R.430. 322. that it was the first business which they proposed to the consideration of the state. Notwithstanding it had yet produced no effects, it threw the senate into great perplexity, as they dreaded equally the consequences, either of passing it over, or of taking it up; lest on the one hand, if that people’s conduct passed with impunity, wantonness and arrogance might excite other states in their neighbourhood to follow their example; and, on the other, if an attempt should be made to punish them by force of arms, resentment and dread of immediate danger might produce the same effect. And the whole body of Vestinians, too, was at least equal in strength to the Samnites, being composed of the Marsians, the Pelignians, and the Marrusinians; against all of whom they would have to contend, if any steps were taken against that nation. However, that opinion prevailed, which might, at the time, seem to have more spirit than prudence; but the event afforded a proof that fortune assists the brave. The people, in pursuance of the direction of the senate, ordered war against the Vestinians, which province fell by lot to Junius; Samnium to Camillus. Armies were led to both places, which, by carefully guarding the frontiers, prevented a junction of the forces of their enemies. But Lucius Furius, on whom the principal weight of the business rested, was deprived of his share in the management of it, being seized with a severe sickness. He was, therefore, ordered to nominate a dictator to conduct the war, and he nominated Lucius Papirius Cursor, the most celebrated general, by far, of any in that age, who appointed Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus master of the horse. These commanders were remarkable for their exploits in war; but more so, for a quarrel which arose between themselves, and which proceeded almost to violence. The other consul, in the territory of the Vestinians, carried on operations of various kinds; and, in all, was uniformly successful. He utterly laid waste their lands; and, by spoiling and burning their houses and corn, compelled them to come to an engagement; when, in one battle, he reduced the strength of the Vestinians to such a degree, though not without loss on his own side, that they not only fled to their camp; but, fearing even to trust to the rampart and trench, dispersed from thence into the several towns, in hopes of finding security in the situation and fortifications of their cities. At last he undertook to reduce their towns by force; and so ardent were the soldiers, and such their resentment for the wounds which they had received, (hardly one of them having come out of the battle unhurt,) that he took Cutina by scalade, and afterwards Cingilia. The spoil of both cities he gave to the soldiers, in consideration of their having bravely surmounted the obstruction both of gates and walls.
XXX. The commanders entered Samnium without having obtained any particularly favourable indications in the auspices; an ominous circumstance, which pointed, not at the event of war, for that was prosperous, but at the furious passions and the quarrels which broke out between the leaders. For Papirius the dictator, returning to Rome in order to take the auspices anew, in consequence of a caution received from the aruspex, left strict orders with the master of the horse to remain in his post, and not to engage in battle during his absence. After the departure of the dictator, Fabius having discovered by his scouts, that the enemy were in as unguarded a state as if there was not a single Roman in their neighbourhood, the high-spirited youth, (either conceiving indignation at the sole authority in every point appearing to be lodged in the hands of the dictator, or induced by the opportunity of striking an important blow,) having made the necessary preparations and dispositions, marched to a place called Imbrinium, and there fought a battle with the Samnites. His success in the fight was such, that there was no one circumstance which could have been improved to more advantage, if the dictator had been present. The leader was not wanting to the soldiers, nor the soldiers to their leader. The cavalry too, (finding, after repeated charges, that they could not break the ranks,) by the advice of Lucius Cominius, a military tribune, pulled off the bridles from their horses and spurred them on so furiously, that no power could withstand them; forcing their way through the thickest of the enemy, they bore down every thing before them; and the infantry, seconding the charge, the whole body was thrown into confusion. Of these, twenty thousand are said to have fallen on that day. Some accounts say that there were two battles fought during the dictator’s absence, and two victories obtained; but the most ancient writers mention only this one, and in some histories the whole transaction is omitted. The master of the horse getting possession of abundance of spoils, in consequence of the great numbers slain, collected the arms into a huge heap, and burned them; either in pursuance of a vow to some of the gods, or, if we choose to credit Fabius, in order to prevent the dictator from reaping the fruits of that renown, to which he alone was entitled. He feared, too, that Papirius might inscribe his name on the spoils, or carry them in triumph. His letters also, containing an account of the success, being sent to the senate, showed plainly that he wished not to impart to the dictator any share of the honour; who certainly viewed the proceeding in this light, for, while others rejoiced at the victory obtained, he showed only surliness and anger: insomuch that, immediately dismissing the senate, he hastened out of the senate-house, and frequently repeated with warmth, that the legions of the Samnites were not more effectually vanquished and overthrown by the master of the horse, than were the dictatorial dignity and military discipline, if such contempt of orders escaped with impunity. Thus, breathing resentment and menaces, he set out for the camp; but, though he travelled with all possible expedition, intelligence arrived before him, that the dictator was coming, eager for vengeance, and in every second sentence applauding the conduct of Titus Manlius.
XXXI. Fabius instantly called an assembly, and intreated the soldiers to “show the same courage in protecting him, under whose conduct and auspices they had conquered, from the outrageous cruelty of the dictator, which they had so lately displayed in defending the commonwealth from its most inveterate enemies. He was now coming,” he told them, “frantic with envy; enraged at another’s bravery, raving like a madman, because, in his absence, the business of the public had been executed with remarkable success; and, if he could change the fortune of the engagement, would wish the Samnites in possession of victory rather than the Romans. He talked much of contempt of orders; as if his prohibition of fighting were not dictated by the same motive, which caused his vexation at the fight having taken place. He wished to shackle the valour of others, and meant to take away the soldiers’ arms when they were most eager for action, and that no use might be made of them in his absence: he was farther enraged too, because Quintus Fabius considered himself as master of the horse, not as a beadle to the dictator. How would he have behaved, had the issue of the fight been unfortunate; which, through the chances of war and the uncertainty of military operations, might have been the case; since now, when the enemy has been vanquished, (as completely, indeed, as if that leader’s own singular talents had been employed in the matter,) he yet threatens the master of the horse with punishment? Nor is his rancour greater towards the master of the horse than towards the military tribunes, towards the centurions, towards the soldiers. On all he would vent his rage; and, because that is not in his power, he vents it on one. Envy, like flame, soars upwards; aims at the summit, and makes its attack on the head of the business, on the leader. If he could put him out of the way, together with the glory of the service performed, he would then triumph, like a conqueror over vanquished troops; and, without scruple, practise against the soldiers, what he had been allowed to act against their commander. It behoved them, therefore, in his cause, to support the general liberty of all. If the dictator perceived among the troops the same unanimity in justifying their victory, that they had displayed in gaining it, and that all interested themselves in the safety of one, it would bend his temper to milder counsels. In fine,” he told them that “he committed his life, and all his interests, to their honour and to their courage.”
XXXII. His speech was received with the loudest acclamations from every part of the assembly, bidding him “have courage; for, while the Roman legions were in being, no man should offer him violence.” Not long after, the dictator arrived, and instantly summoned an assembly by sound of trumpet. Then, silence being made, a crier cited Quintus Fabius master of the horse, and, as soon as, on the lower ground, he had approached the tribunal, the dictator said, “Quintus Fabius, I demand of you, when the authority of dictator is acknowledged to be supreme, and is submitted to by the consuls, officers endowed with regal power; and likewise by the prætors, created under the same auspices with consuls; whether or no you think it reasonable that it should not meet obedience from a master of the horse? I also ask you whether, when I knew that I set out from home under uncertain auspices, it was for me, under that consideration, to hazard the safety of the commonwealth, or whether my duty did not require me to have the auspices newly taken, so that nothing might be done while the will of the gods remained doubtful? And, further, when a religious scruple was of such a nature, as to hinder the dictator from acting, whether the master of the horse could be exempt from it, and at liberty? But why do I ask these questions, when, supposing that I had gone without leaving any orders, your own judgment ought to have been regulated according to what you could discover of my intention. Why do you not answer? Did I not forbid you to act, in any respect, during my absence? Did I not forbid you to engage the enemy? Yet, in contempt of these my orders, while the auspices were uncertain, while the omens were confused, contrary to the practice of war, contrary to the discipline of our ancestors, and contrary to the authority of the gods, you dared to enter on the fight. Answer to these questions, proposed to you. On any other matter utter not a word. Lictor, draw near him.” To each of these particulars, Fabius, finding it no easy matter to answer, at one time remonstrated against the same person acting as accuser and judge, in a cause which affected his very existence; at another, he asserted that his life should sooner be forced from him, than the glory of his past services; clearing himself, and accusing the other by turns, so that the dictator’s anger blazed out with fresh fury; and he ordered the matter of the horse to be stripped, and the rods and axes to be got ready. Fabius, imploring the protection of the soldiers, while the lictors were tearing his garments, retired to the quarters of the veterans, who were already raising a commotion in the assembly: from them the uproar spread through the whole body; in one place the voice of supplication was heard; in another, menaces. Those who happened to stand nearest to the tribunal, because, being under the eyes of the general, they could easily be known, applied to him with entreaties to spare the master of the horse, and not in him to condemn the whole army. The remoter parts of the assembly, and the crowd collected round Fabius, railed at the unrelenting spirit of the dictator, and were not far from mutiny: nor was even the tribunal perfectly quiet. The lieutenants-general standing round the general’s seat, besought him to adjourn the business to the next day, and to allow time to his anger, and room for consideration; representing, that “the indiscretion of Fabius had been sufficiently rebuked; his victory sufficiently disgraced; and they begged him not to proceed to the extreme of severity; not to brand with ignominy a youth of extraordinary merit, or his father, a man of most illustrious character, together with the whole family of the Fabii.” When neither their prayers nor arguments made any impression, they desired him to observe the violent ferment of the assembly, and told him, that, “while the soldiers’ tempers were heated to such a degree, it became not either his age or his wisdom to kindle them into a flame, and afford matter for a mutiny: that no one would lay the blame of such an event on Quintus Fabius, who only deprecated punishment; but on the dictator, if, blinded by resentment, he should, by an ill-judged contest, draw on himself the fury of the multitude: and, lest he should think that they acted from motives of regard to Quintus Fabius, they were ready to make oath that, in their judgment, it was not for the interest of the commonwealth that Quintus Fabius should be punished at that time.”
XXXIII. Their expostulations irritating the dictator against themselves, instead of appeasing his anger against the master of the horse, the lieutenants-general were ordered to go down from the tribunal; and, after several vain attempts were made to procure silence by means of a crier, the noise and tumult being so great that neither the voice of the dictator himself, nor that of his apparitors, could be heard; night, as in the case of a battle, put an end to the contest. The master of the horse was ordered to attend on the day following; but, being assured by every one that Papirius, being agitated and exasperated in the course of the present convention, would proceed against him with greater violence, he fled privately from the camp to Rome; where, by the advice of his father, Marcus Fabius, who had been three times consul, and likewise dictator, he immediately called a meeting of the senate. While he was laying his complaints before the fathers, of the rage and injustice of the dictator, on a sudden was heard the noise of lictors before the senate-house, clearing the way, and Papirius himself arrived, full of resentment, having followed, with a guard of light horse, as soon as he heard that the other had quitted the camp. The contention then began anew, and the dictator ordered Fabius to be seized. As he persisted in his purpose with inflexible obstinacy, notwithstanding the united intercessions of the principal patricians, and of the whole senate, Fabius, the father, then said, “since neither the authority of the senate has any weight with you; nor my age, which you wish to render childless; nor the noble birth and merit of a master of the horse, nominated by yourself; nor prayers, which have often mitigated the rage of an enemy, and which appease the the wrath of the gods; I call upon the tribunes of the commons for support, and appeal to the people: and, since you decline the judgment of your own army, as well of the senate, I call you before a judge who must certainly be allowed, though no other should, to possess more power and authority than yourself, though dictator. It shall be seen whether you will submit to an appeal, to which Tullus Hostilius, a Roman King, submitted.” They proceeded directly from the senate-house to the assembly; where, being arrived, the dictator attended by few, the master of the horse by all the people of the first rank in a body, Papirius commanded him to be taken from the rostrum to the lower ground; on which, his father, following him, said, “You do well in ordering us to be brought down to a place where even as private persons we have liberty of speech.” At first, instead of regular speeches, nothing but altercation was heard: at length, the indignation of old Fabius, and the strength of his voice, got the better of noise, while he reproached Papirius with arrogance and cruelty. “He himself,” he said, “had been dictator at Rome: and no man, not even the lowest plebeian, or centurion, or soldier, had suffered in any way through his means. But Papirius sought for victory and triumph over a Roman commander with as much zeal as over the generals of the enemy. What an immense difference between the moderation of the ancients, and the oppression of the moderns? Quintius Cincinnatus, when dictator, shewed no farther mark of resentment to Lucius Minucius the consul, (although from his ill conduct he had fallen into the power of the enemy, and from which he rescued him,) than leaving him at the head of the army, in the quality of lieutenant-general, instead of consul. Marcus Furius Camillus, in the case of Lucius Furius, who, in contempt of his great age and authority, had fought a battle, the issue of which was dishonourable in the last degree, not only restrained his anger at the time, so as to write no unfavourable representation of his conduct to the people or the senate; but, after returning home, when the patricians gave him a power of electing from among his colleagues whoever he might approve as an associate with himself in the command, chose that very man in preference to all the other consular tribunes. Nay, the body of the people themselves, whose power is supreme in every case, never suffered their passions to carry them to greater severity, even towards those, who, through rashness and ignorance, had occasioned the loss of armies, than the fining them in a sum of money. Until that day, a capital prosecution for ill conduct in war had never been instituted against any commander, but now, generals of the Roman people, after gaining the most splendid victories, and meriting the most honourable triumphs, are threatened with rods and axes; a treatment which would not have been deemed allowable, even towards those who had been defeated by an enemy. What degree of punishment would his son have been liable to, if he had occasioned the loss of the army? if he had been put to flight, and driven out of his camp? Could the dictator stretch his resentment and violence to any greater length than to scourge him, and put him to death? How was it consistent with reason, that, through the means of Quintus Fabius, the state should be filled with joy, exulting in victory, and occupied in thanksgivings and congratulations; while, at the same time, he who had given occasion to the temples of the gods being thrown open, their altars yet smoking with sacrifices, and loaded with honours and offerings, should be stripped naked, and torn with stripes in the sight of the Roman people; within view of the Capitol and citadel, and of those gods, whose aid he had so successfully invoked in two different battles? With what temper would such proceedings be borne by the army which had conquered under his conduct and auspices? What mourning would there be in the Roman camp; what joy among their enemies?” This speech he accompanied with an abundant flow of tears; uniting reproaches and complaints, imploring the aid both of gods and men, and warmly embracing his son.
XXXIV. On his side stood the majesty of the senate, the favour of the people, the support of the tribunes, and regard for the absent army. On the other side were urged the inviolable authority of the Roman government and military discipline; the edict of the dictator, always observed as the mandate of a deity; nor was the severity of Manlius forgot, and his postponing even parental affection to public utility. “The same also,” said the dictator, “was the conduct of Lucius Brutus, the founder of Roman liberty, in the case of his two sons. But now, such is the indulgence of fathers, and the easiness of temper in the aged, that, in this case of contempt of the dictatorial authority, they indulge the young in the subversion of military order, as if it were a matter of trifling consequence. For his part, however, he would persevere in his purpose, and would not remit the smallest part of the punishment justly due to a person who fought contrary to his orders, while the rites of religion were imperfectly executed, and the auspices uncertain. Whether the majesty of the supreme authority was to be perpetual, or not, depended not on him; but Lucius Papirius would not diminish aught of its rights. He wished that the tribunitian office, inviolate itself, would not, by its interposition, violate the authority of the Roman government; nor the Roman people, in his case particularly, annihilate the dictator, and the rights of the dictatorship, together. But, if this should be the case, not Lucius Papirius, but the tribunes and the people, would be blamed by posterity; though then too late, when military discipline being once dissolved, the soldier would no longer obey the orders of the centurion, the centurion those of the tribune, the tribune those of the lieutenant-general, the lieutenant-general those of the consul, nor the master of the horse those of the dictator. No one would then pay any deference to men, no, nor even to the gods. Neither edicts of generals, nor auspices, would be observed. The soldiers, without leave of absence, would straggle at random through the lands of friends and of foes; and, regardless of their oath, would, merely to gratify a wanton humour, quit the service whenever they might choose. The standards would be forsaken; the men would neither assemble in pursuance of orders, nor attend to the difference of fighting by night or by day, on favourable or unfavourable ground. In a word, military operations, instead of the regularity established under the sanction of a sacred solemnity, would become like those of free-booters, directed by chance and accident. Render yourselves, then, tribunes of the commons, accountable for all these evils, to all future ages. Expose your own persons to these heavy imputations in defence of the licentious conduct of Quintus Fabius.”
XXXV. The tribunes stood confounded, and were now more anxiously concerned at their own situation than at his who sought their support, when they were freed from this embarrassment by the Roman people unanimously having recourse to prayers and entreaties, that the dictator would, for their sakes, remit the punishment of the master of the horse. The tribunes likewise, seeing the business take this turn, followed the example, earnestly beseeching the dictator to pardon human error, to consider the immaturity of the offender’s age, who had suffered sufficiently: and now the youth himself, now his father, Marcus Fabius, disclaiming farther contest, fell at the dictator’s knees, and deprecated his wrath. Then the dictator, after causing silence, said, “Romans, it is well. Military discipline has prevailed; the majesty of government has prevailed; both which were in danger of ceasing this day to exist. Quintus Fabius, who fought contrary to the order of his commander, is not acquitted of guilt; but, after being condemned as guilty, is granted as a boon to the Roman people; is granted to the college of tribunes, supporting him with their prayers, not with the regular power of their office. Live, Quintus Fabius, more happy in this union of all parts of the state for your preservation than in the victory in which you lately exulted. Live, after having ventured on such an act, as your father himself, had he been in the place of Lucius Papirius, would not have pardoned. With me you shall be reconciled, whenever you wish it. To the Roman people, to whom you owe your life, you can perform no greater service, than to let this day teach you the important lesson of submission to lawful commands, both in war and peace.” He then declared, that the master of the horse was at liberty to depart: and, as he retired from the rostrum, the senate, being greatly rejoiced, and the people still more so, gathered round him, and escorted him, on one hand commending the dictator, on the other congratulating the master of the horse; while all agreed in opinion, that the authority of military command was confirmed no less effectually in the instance of Quintus Fabius than in that of young Manlius. It so happened, that, through the course of that year, as often as the dictator left the army, the Samnites were in motion: but Marcus Valerius, the lieutenant-general, who commanded in the camp, had Quintus Fabius before his eyes for an example, not to fear any violence of the enemy, so much as the unrelenting anger of the dictator. So that when a body of his foragers fell into an ambuscade, and were cut to pieces in disadvantageous ground, it was generally believed that the lieutenant-general could have given them assistance, if he had not been held in dread by his rigorous orders. The resentment which this excited helped to alienate the affections of the soldiery from the dictator; against whom they had been before incensed by his implacable behaviour towards Quintus Fabius, and from having granted him pardon at the intercession of the Roman people, after he had refused it to their entreaties.
XXXVI. The dictator prohibited Quintus Fabius from acting in any case as a magistrate, conferred the command in the city on Lucius Papirius Crassus, as master of the horse, and then returned to the camp; where his arrival brought neither any great joy to his countrymen, nor any degree of terror to the enemy: for, on the day following, either not knowing the dictator’s arrival, or little regarding whether he were present or absent, they marched out in order of battle. Of such importance, however, was that single man, Lucius Papirius, that, had the zeal of the soldiers seconded the dispositions of the commander, no doubt was entertained that an end might have been put, that day, to the war with the Samnites. He chose the best possible position for his troops, posted his body of reserve most judiciously, and strengthened them with every advantage which military skill could devise: but the soldiers exerted no vigour; and designedly kept from conquering, in order to injure the reputation of their leader. Of the Samnites, however, very many were slain; and great numbers of the Romans wounded. The experienced commander quickly perceived the circumstance which prevented his success, and that it would be necessary to moderate his temper, and to mingle mildness with austerity. Accordingly, attended by the lieutenants-general, he went round to the tents of the wounded soldiers, enquiring of each the state of his health; then, mentioning them by name, he gave them in charge to the officers, tribunes, and præfects, recommending them to their particular care. This behaviour, popular in itself, he maintained with such dexterity, that by his attention to their recovery, he gradually gained their affection; nor did any thing so much contribute towards their recovery as the gratitude excited by this humane condescension. As soon as the men were restored to health, he came to an engagement with the enemy; and both himself and the troops, being possessed with full confidence of success, he so entirely defeated and dispersed the Samnites, that they never, after that day, met the dictator in the field. The victorious army, afterwards, directed its march wherever a prospect of booty invited, and traversed their territories without a weapon being raised against them, or any opposition given, either openly or by stratagem. It added to their alacrity, that the dictator had, by proclamation, given the whole spoil to the soldiers; so that they were animated not only by the public quarrel, but by their private emolument. Thus reduced, the Samnites sued to the dictator for peace, and, after they had engaged to supply each of his soldiers with a suit of clothes, and a year’s pay, being ordered to apply to the senate, they answered, that they would follow the dictator, committing their cause wholly to his integrity and honour. On this the troops were withdrawn out of Samnium.
XXXVII. The dictator entered the city in triumph; and, though desirous of resigning his office immediately, yet, by order of the senate,Y.R.431. 321. he held it until the consuls were elected: these were Caius Sulpicius Longus, a second time, and Quintus Æmilius Cerretanus. The Samnites, without finishing the treaty of peace, the terms being still in negociation, departed, after concluding a truce for a year. Nor was even that faithfully observed; so strongly was their inclination for war excited, on hearing that Papirius was gone out of office. In this consulate of Caius Sulpicius and Quintus Æmilius, (some histories have Aulius,) to the revolt of the Samnites was added a new war with the Apulians. Armies were sent against both. The Samnites fell by lot to Sulpicius, the Apulians to Æmilius. Some writers say, that this war was not waged with the Apulians, but in defence of the allied states of that nation, against the violence and injustice of the Samnites. But the circumstances of the Samnites at that period, when they were themselves engaged in a war, which they could with difficulty support, render it more probable that they did not make war on the Apulians, but that both nations were in arms against the Romans at the same time. However, no memorable event occurred. The lands of the Apulians and Samnium were utterly laid waste; but in neither quarter did the enemy show themselves. At Rome, an alarm, which happened in the night, suddenly roused the people from their sleep, in such a fright, that the Capitol and citadel, the walls and gates, were all filled with men in arms. But, after they had called all to their posts, and run together, in bodies, in every quarter, when day appeared, neither the author nor cause of the alarm could be discovered. This year, in pursuance of the advice of Flavius, a tribune of the commons, the Tusculans were brought to a trial before the people. He proposed, that punishment should be inflicted on those of the Tusculans, “by whose advice and assistance the Veliternians and Privernians had made war on the Roman people.” The Tusculans, with their wives and children, came to Rome, and, in mourning habits, like persons under accusation, went round the tribes, throwing themselves at the feet of the citizens with humble supplications. This excited a degree of compassion which operated more effectually towards procuring them pardon, than all the arguments they could urge, did towards clearing themselves of guilt. Every one of the tribes, except the Pollian, negatived the proposition. The sentence of the Pollian tribe was, that the grown-up males should be beaten, and put to death, and their wives and children sold by auction according to the rules of war. It appears, that the resentment which arose against the advisers of so rigorous a measure, was retained in memory by the Tusculans down to the age of our fathers; and that hardly any candidate of the Pollian tribe could, ever since, gain the votes of the Papirian.
XXXVIII. In the following year, which was the consulate of Quintus Fabius and Lucius Fulvius,Y.R.432. 320. Aulus Cornelius Arvina being made dictator, and Marcus Fabius Ambustus master of the horse, troops were levied with greater exertion than ordinary, under the apprehension of having a more powerful opposition than usual to encounter, in the war with the Samnites, who, it was reported, had procured, from their neighbours, a number of young men for hire: an army, therefore, of extraordinary force, was sent against them. Although in a hostile country, their camp was pitched in as careless a manner, as if the foe were at a great distance; when, suddenly, the legions of the Samnites approached with so much boldness as to advance their rampart close to an out-post of the Romans. Night coming on, prevented their assaulting the works; but they did not conceal their intention of doing so next day, as soon as the light should appear. The dictator found that there would be a necessity for fighting sooner than he had expected, and, lest the situation should be an obstruction to the bravery of the troops, he led away the legions in silence, leaving a great number of fires the better to deceive the enemy. The camps, however, lay so close together, that he could not escape their observation: their cavalry instantly pursued, and pressed closely on his troops, yet refrained from attacking them until the day appeared. Their infantry did not even quit their camp before day-light. As soon as it was dawn, the cavalry ventured to begin skirmishing; and, by harassing the Roman rear, and pressing them in places of difficult passage, considerably delayed their march. Meanwhile their infantry overtook the cavalry; and now the Samnites pursued close with their entire force. The dictator then, finding that he could no longer go forward without great inconvenience, ordered the spot where he stood to be measured out for a camp. But it was impossible, while the enemy’s horse were spread about on every side, that palisades could be brought, and the work be begun: seeing it, therefore, impracticable, either to march forward, or to settle himself there, he drew up his troops for battle, removing the baggage out of the line. The enemy likewise formed their line opposite to his; no wise inferior, either in spirit or in strength. Their courage was chiefly improved from not knowing that the motive of the Romans’ retreat was the incommodiousness of the ground, so that they imagined themselves objects of terror, and supposed that they were pursuing men who fled through fear. This kept the balance of the fight equal for a considerable time; though, of late, it had been unusual with the Samnites to stand even the shout of a Roman army. Certain it is, that the contest, on this day, continued so very doubtful from the third hour to the eighth, that neither was the shout repeated, after being raised at the first onset, nor the standards moved either forward or backward; nor any ground lost on either side. They fought without taking breath, every man in his post, and pushing against their opponents with their shields. The noise continuing equal, and the terror of the fight the same, seemed to denote, that the decision would be effected either by fatigue or by the night. The men had now exhausted their strength, the sword its power, and the leaders their skill; when, on a sudden, the Samnite cavalry, having learned from a single troop which had advanced beyond the rest, that the baggage of the Romans lay at a distance from their army, without any guard or defence; eager for booty, they hastened to attack it: of which, the dictator being informed by a hasty messenger, said, “Let them alone, let them encumber themselves with spoils.” Afterwards came several, one after another, crying out, that they were plundering and carrying off all the effects of the soldiers: he then called to him the master of the horse, and said, “Do you see, Marcus Fabius, that the enemy’s cavalry have forsaken the fight? they are entangled and encumbered with our baggage. Attack them: you will find them, as is the case of every multitude employed in plundering, scattered about; few mounted on horseback, few with swords in their hands; and, while they are loading their horses with spoil, and unarmed, put them to the sword, and make it bloody spoil for them. I will take care of the legions, and the fight of the infantry: your’s be the honour which the horse shall acquire.”
XXXIX. The body of cavalry, in the most exact order possible, charging the enemy, who were straggling and embarrassed, filled every place with slaughter: for the packages which they hastily threw down, and which lay in the way of their feet, and of the affrighted horses, as they endeavoured to escape, made them unable either to fight or fly. Then Fabius, after he had almost entirely cut off the enemy’s horse, led round his squadrons in a small circuit, and attacked the infantry in the rear. The new shout, raised in that quarter, terrified the Samnites on the one hand; and when, on the other, the dictator saw their troops in the van looking behind them, their battalions in confusion, and their line wavering, he earnestly exhorted and animated his men, calling on the tribunes and chief centurions, by name, to join him in renewing the fight. Raising the shout anew, they pressed forward, and, as they advanced, perceived the enemy more and more confused. The cavalry now could be seen by those in front, and Cornelius, turning about to the several companies, made them understand, by raising his voice and hands, that he saw the standards and bucklers of his own horsemen. On hearing which, and at the same time seeing them, they, at once, so far forgot the fatigue which they had endured, through almost the whole day, and even their wounds, that they rushed to the fray with as much vigour and alacrity, as if they were coming fresh out of camp on receiving the signal for battle. The Samnites could no longer sustain the charge of horse and foot together: part of them, inclosed on both sides, were cut off; the rest separated, and fled different ways. The infantry slew those who were surrounded and made resistance; and the cavalry made great havoc of the fugitives, among whom fell their general. This battle crushed, at length, the power of the Samnites so effectually, that, in all their meetings, they expressed much discontent, and said, “it was not at all to be wondered at, if, in an impious war, commenced in violation of a treaty, when the gods were, with justice, more incensed against them than men, none of their undertakings prospered. They were not to expect the crime (for so such an infraction of treaties must be held) to be expiated and atoned for without a heavy penalty. The only alternative they had, was, whether the penalty should be the guilty blood of a few, or the innocent blood of all.” Some now ventured to name the authors of the war, among whom was particularly mentioned, Brutulus Papius: he was a man of power and noble birth, and undoubtedly the cause of the late rupture. The prætors being compelled to take the opinion of the assembly concerning him, a decree was made, “that Brutulus Papius should be delivered into the hands of the Romans; and that, together with him, all the spoil taken from the Romans, and the prisoners, should be sent to Rome, and that the restitution demanded by the heralds, in conformity to treaty, should be made, as was agreeable to justice and equity.” In pursuance of this determination, heralds were sent to Rome, and also the dead body of Brutulus; for, by a voluntary death, he avoided the punishment and ignominy intended for him. It was thought proper that his goods also should be delivered up along with the body. But none of all those things were accepted, except the prisoners, and such articles of the spoil as were recognized by the owners. The dictator obtained a triumph by a decree of the senate.
XL. Some writers affirm, that the consuls had the conduct of this war, and that they triumphed over the Samnites; and also, that Fabius advanced into Apulia, and carried off from thence abundance of spoil. But that Aulus Cornelius was dictator that year is an undisputed fact. The question then is, whether he was appointed for the purpose of conducting the war, or on occasion of the illness of Lucius Plautius, the prætor; in order that there might be a magistrate to give the signal for the starting of the chariots at the Roman games. This latter is asserted of him; and that, after performing the business, which, in truth, reflected no great lustre on his office, he resigned the dictatorship. It is not easy to determine between either the facts or the writers, which of them deserves the preference: I am persuaded that history has been much corrupted by means of funeral panegyrics, and false inscriptions on monuments; each family striving by false representations to appropriate to itself the fame of warlike exploits, and public honours. From this cause, certainly, much confusion has taken place, both in the memoirs of individuals, and in the public records of events. Nor is there extant any writer, contemporary with those events, on whose authority we can with certainty rely.
[* ]Otherwise called Ops, Rhea, and Terra, the earth.
[* ]The Novensiles were nine deities brought to Rome by the Sabines, Lara, Vesta, Minerva, Feronia, Concord, Faith, Fortune, Chance, Health.
[* ]14l. 10s. 7½d.
[* ]Municipes, from munus, a right, and capere, to possess. Of the conquered countries the Romans constituted some, Municipia, where the people retained their own laws and magistrates, and even honoured with the title, and, some of them, with all the rights and privileges of Roman citizens. The people of Cære were the first who were thus indulged with full rights; but, afterwards, having joined some neighbouring states, in a war against Rome, all the privileges of citizens were taken from them, and the title only left. In other countries they planted colonies of their own citizens; by which means they disburthened the city of numbers of useless and poor inhabitants, and, at the same time, formed barriers against the adjoining states. Colonists retained all the rights of citizens, chose their own magistrates, and formed a kind of petty republics, under that of Rome. Other countries were made præfectures, deprived of their own laws and magistrates, and governed by a præfect sent annually from Rome.
[* ]31. 4s. 7d.
[* ]From Rostrum, the beak or prow of a ship.
[* ]For, if she had made them free, they could not have been examined by the torture.
[* ]Or the field of Vaccus, from pratum, a field.
[* ]Any noise happening, during the taking of the auspices, was reckoned inauspicious; hence silentium signified, among the augurs, every circumstance being favourable.