Titus Livius.

The History of Rome, Books 09 to 26 online

. (page 5 of 52)
Online LibraryTitus LiviusThe History of Rome, Books 09 to 26 → online text (page 5 of 52)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


present, and the right of being fed in the temple, was restored to
those who played at the sacrifices. These incidents occurred while the
public attention was deeply engaged by two most important wars.

31. The consuls adjusting the provinces between them, the Samnites
fell by lot to Junius, the new war of Etruria to Aemilius. In Samnium
the Samnites had blockaded and reduced by famine Cluvia, a Roman
garrison, because they had been unable to take it by storm; and, after
torturing with stripes, in a shocking manner, the townsmen who
surrendered, they had put them to death. Enraged at this cruelty,
Junius determined to postpone every thing else to the attacking of
Cluvia; and, on the first day that he assaulted the walls, took it by
storm, and slew all who were grown to man's estate. The victorious
troops were led from thence to Bovianum; this was the capital of the
Pentrian Samnites, by far the most opulent of their cities, and the
most powerful both in men and arms. The soldiers, stimulated by the
hope of plunder, for their resentment was not so violent, soon made
themselves masters of the town: where there was less severity
exercised on the enemy; but a quantity of spoil was carried off,
greater almost than had ever been collected out of all Samnium, and
the whole was liberally bestowed on the assailants. And when neither
armies, camps, or cities could now withstand the vast superiority of
the Romans in arms; the attention of all the leading men in Samnium
became intent on this, that an opportunity should be sought for some
stratagem, if by any chance the army, proceeding with incautious
eagerness for plunder, could be caught in a snare and overpowered.
Peasants who deserted and some prisoners (some thrown in their way by
accident, some purposely) reporting to the consul a statement in which
they concurred, and one which was at the same time true, that a vast
quantity of cattle had been driven together into a defile of difficult
access, prevailed on them to lead thither the legions lightly
accoutred for plunder. Here a very numerous army of the enemy had
posted themselves, secretly, at all the passes; and, as soon as they
saw that the Romans had got into the defile, they rose up suddenly,
with great clamour and tumult, and attacked them unawares. At first an
event so unexpected caused some confusion, while they were taking
their arms, and throwing the baggage into the centre; but, as fast as
each had freed himself from his burden and fitted himself with arms,
they assembled about the standards, from every side; and all, from the
long course of their service, knowing their particular ranks, the line
was formed of its own accord without any directions. The consul,
riding up to the place where the fight was most warm, leaped from his
horse, and called "Jupiter, Mars, and the other gods to witness, that
he had come into that place, not in pursuit of any glory to himself,
but of booty for his soldiers; nor could any other fault be charged on
him, than too great a solicitude to enrich his soldiers at the expense
of the enemy. From that disgrace nothing could extricate him but the
valour of the troops: let them only join unanimously in a vigorous
attack against a foe, already vanquished in the field, beaten out of
their camps, and stripped of their towns, and now trying their last
hope by the contrivance of an ambuscade, placing their reliance on the
ground they occupied, not on their arms. But what ground was now
unsurmountable to Roman valour?" The citadel of Fregellae, and that of
Sora, were called to their remembrance, with many other places where
difficulties from situation had been surmounted. Animated by these
exhortations, the soldiers, regardless of all difficulties, advanced
against the line of the enemy, posted above them; and here there was
some fatigue whilst the army was climbing the steep. But as soon as
the first battalions got footing in the plain, on the summit, and the
troops perceived that they now stood on equal ground, the dismay was
instantly turned on the plotters; who, dispersing and casting away
their arms, attempted, by flight, to recover the same lurking-places
in which they had lately concealed themselves. But the difficulties of
the ground, which had been intended for the enemy, now entangled them
in the snares of their own contrivance. Accordingly very few found
means to escape; twenty thousand men were slain, and the victorious
Romans hastened in several parties to secure the booty of cattle,
spontaneously thrown in their way by the enemy.

32. While such was the situation of affairs in Samnium, all the states
of Etruria, except the Arretians, had taken arms, and vigorously
commenced hostilities, by laying siege to Sutrium; which city, being
in alliance with the Romans, served as a barrier against Etruria.
Thither the other consul, Aemilius, came with an army to deliver the
allies from the siege. On the arrival of the Romans, the Sutrians
conveyed a plentiful supply of provisions into their camp, which was
pitched before the city. The Etrurians spent the first day in
deliberating whether they should expedite or protract the war. On the
day following, when the speedier plan pleased the leaders in
preference to the safer, as soon as the sun rose the for battle was
displayed, and the troops marched out to the field; which being
reported to the consul, he instantly commanded notice to be given,
that they should dine, and after taking refreshment, then appear under
arms. The order was obeyed; and the consul, seeing them armed and in
readiness, ordered the standards to be carried forth beyond the
rampart, and drew up his men at a small distance from the enemy. Both
parties stood a long time with fixed attention, each waiting for the
shout and fight to begin on the opposite side; and the sun had passed
the meridian before a weapon was thrown by either side. Then, rather
than leave the place without something being done, the shout was given
by the Etrurians, the trumpets sounded, and the battalions advanced.
With no less alertness do the Romans commence the fight: both rushed
to the fight with violent animosity; the enemy were superior in
numbers, the Romans in valour. The battle being doubtful, carries off
great numbers on both sides, particularly the men of greatest courage;
nor did victory declare itself, until the second line of the Romans
came up fresh to the front, in the place of the first, who were much
fatigued. The Etrurians, because their front line was not supported by
any fresh reserves, fell all before and round the standards, and in no
battle whatever would there have been seen less disposition to run, or
a greater effusion of human blood, had not the night sheltered the
Etrurians, who were resolutely determined on death; so that the
victors, not the vanquished, were the first who desisted from
fighting. After sunset the signal for retreat was given, and both
parties retired in the night to their camps. During the remainder of
the year, nothing memorable was effected at Sutrium; for, of the
enemy's army, the whole first line had been cut off in one battle, the
reserves only being left, who were scarce sufficient to guard the
camp; and, among the Romans, so numerous were the wounds, that more
wounded men died after the battle than had fallen in the field.

33. Quintus Fabius, consul for the ensuing year, succeeded to the
command of the army at Sutrium; the colleague given to him was Caius
Marcius Rutilus. On the one side, Fabius brought with him a
reinforcement from Rome, and on the other, a new army had been sent
for, and came from home, to the Etrurians. Many years had now passed
without any disputes between the patrician magistrates and plebeian
tribunes, when a contest took its rise from that family, which seemed
raised by fate as antagonists to the tribunes and commons of those
times; Appius Claudius, being censor, when the eighteen months had
expired, which was the time limited by the Aemilian law for the
duration of the censorship, although his colleague Caius Plautius had
already resigned his office, could not be prevailed on, by any means,
to give up his. There was a tribune of the commons, Publius
Sempronius; he undertook to enforce a legal process for terminating
the censorship within the lawful time, which was not more popular than
just, nor more pleasing to the people generally than to every man of
character in the city. After he frequently appealed to the Aemilian
law, and bestowed commendations on Mamercus Aemilius, who, in his
dictatorship, had been the author of it, for having contracted, within
the space of a year and six months, the censorship, which formerly had
lasted five years, and was a power which, in consequence of its long
continuance, often became tyrannical, he proceeded thus: "Tell me,
Appius Claudius, in what manner you would have acted, had you been
censor, at the time when Caius Furius and Marcus Geganius were
censors?" Appius insisted, that "the tribune's question was irrelevant
to his case. For, although the Aemilian law might bind those censors,
during whose magistracy it was passed, - because the people made that
law after they had become censors; and whatever order is the last
passed by the people, that is held to be the law, and valid: - yet
neither he, nor any of those who had been created censors subsequent
to the passing of that law, could be bound by it."

34. While Appius urged such frivolous arguments as these, which
carried no conviction whatever, the other said, "Behold, Romans, the
offspring of that Appius, who being created decemvir for one year,
created himself for a second; and who, during a third, without being
created even by himself or by any other, held on the fasces and the
government though a private individual; nor ceased to continue in
office, until the government itself, ill acquired, ill administered,
and ill retained, overwhelmed him in ruin. This is the same family,
Romans, by whose violence and injustice ye were compelled to banish
yourselves from your native city, and seize on the Sacred mount; the
same, against which ye provided for yourselves the protection of
tribunes; the same, on account of which two armies of you took post on
the Aventine; the same, which violently opposed the laws against
usury, and always the agrarian laws; the same, which broke through the
right of intermarriage between the patricians and the commons; the
same, which shut up the road to curule offices against the commons:
this is a name, more hostile to your liberty by far, than that of the
Tarquins. I pray you, Appius Claudius, though this is now the
hundredth year since the dictatorship of Mamercus Aemilius, though
there have been so many men of the highest characters and abilities
censors, did none of these ever read the twelve tables? none of them
know, that, whatever was the last order of the people, that was law?
Nay, certainly they all knew it; and they therefore obeyed the
Aemilian law, rather than the old one, under which the censors had
been at first created; because it was the last order; and because,
when two laws are contradictory, the new always repeals the old. Do
you mean to say, Appius, that the people are not bound by the Aemilian
law? Or, that the people are bound, and you alone exempted? The
Aemilian law bound those violent censors, Caius Furius and Marcus
Geganius, who showed what mischief that office might do in the state;
when, out of resentment for the limitation of their power, they
disfranchised Mamercus Aemilius, the first man of the age, either in
war or peace. It bound all the censors thenceforward, during the space
of a hundred years. It binds Caius Plautius your colleague, created
under the same auspices, with the same privileges. Did not the people
create him with the fullest privileges with which any censor ever was
created? Or is yours an excepted case, in which this peculiarity and
singularity takes place? Shall the person, whom you create king of the
sacrifices, laying hold of the style of sovereignty, say, that he was
created with the fullest privileges with which any king was ever
created at Rome? Who then, do you think, would be content with a
dictatorship of six months? who, with the office of interrex for five
days? Whom would you, with confidence, create dictator, for the
purpose of driving the nail, or of exhibiting games? How foolish, how
stupid, do ye think, those must appear in this man's eyes, who, after
performing most important services, abdicated the dictatorship within
the twentieth day; or who, being irregularly created, resigned their
office? Why should I bring instances from antiquity? Lately, within
these last ten years, Caius Maenius, dictator, having enforced
inquiries, with more strictness than consisted with the safety of some
powerful men, a charge was thrown out by his enemies, that he himself
was infected with the very crime against which his inquiries were
directed; - now Maenius, I say, in order that he might, in a private
capacity, meet the imputation, abdicated the dictatorship. I expect
not such moderation in you; you will not degenerate from your family,
of all others the most imperious and assuming; nor resign your office
a day, nor even an hour, before you are forced to it. Be it so: but
then let no one exceed the time limited. It is enough to add a day, or
a month, to the censorship. But Appius says, I will hold the
censorship, and hold it alone, three years and six months longer than
is allowed by the Aemilian law. Surely this is like kingly power. Or
will you fill up the vacancy with another colleague, a proceeding not
allowable, even in the case of the death of a censor? You are not
satisfied that, as if a religious censor, you have degraded a most
ancient solemnity, and the only one instituted by the very deity to
whom it is performed, from priests of that rite who were of the
highest rank to the ministry of mere servants. [You are not satisfied
that] a family, more ancient than the origin of this city, and
sanctified by an intercourse of hospitality with the immortal gods,
has, by means of you and your censorship, been utterly extirpated,
with all its branches, within the space of a year, unless you involve
the whole commonwealth in horrid guilt, which my mind feels a horror
even to contemplate. This city was taken in that lustrum in which
Lucius Papirius Cursor, on the death of his colleague Julius, the
censor, rather than resign his office, substituted Marcus Cornelius
Maluginensis. Yet how much more moderate was his ambition, Appius,
than yours! Lucius Papirius neither held the censorship alone, nor
beyond the time prescribed by law. But still he found no one who would
follow his example; all succeeding censors, in case of the death of a
colleague, abdicated the office. As for you, neither the expiration of
the time of your censorship, nor the resignation of your colleague,
nor law, nor shame restrains you. You make fortitude to consist in
arrogance, in boldness, in a contempt of gods and men. Appius
Claudius, in consideration of the dignity and respect due to that
office which you have borne, I should be sorry, not only to offer you
personal violence, but even to address you in language too severe.
With respect to what I have hitherto said, your pride and obstinacy
forced me to speak. And now, unless you pay obedience to the Aemilian
law, I shall order you to be led to prison. Nor, since a rule has been
established by our ancestors, that in the election of censors unless
two shall obtain the legal number of suffrages, neither shall be
returned, but the election deferred, - will I suffer you, who could not
singly be created censor, to hold the censorship without a colleague."
Having spoken to this effect he ordered the censor to be seized, and
borne to prison. But although six of the tribunes approved of the
proceeding of their colleague, three gave their support to Appius, on
his appealing to them, and he held the censorship alone, to the great
disgust of all ranks of men.

35. While such was the state of affairs at Rome, the Etrurians had
laid siege to Sutrium, and the consul Fabius, as he was marching along
the foot of the mountains, with a design to succour the allies, and
attempt the enemy's works, if it were by any means practicable, was
met by their army prepared for battle. As the wide-extended plain
below showed the greatness of their force, the consul, in order to
remedy his deficiency in point of number, by advantage of the ground,
changed the direction of his route a little towards the hills, where
the way was rugged and covered with stones, and then formed his
troops, facing the enemy. The Etrurians, thinking of nothing but their
numbers, on which alone they depended, commence the fight with such
haste and eagerness, that, in order to come the sooner to a close
engagement, they threw away their javelins, drew their swords, rushing
against the enemy. On the other side, the Romans poured down on them,
sometimes javelins, and sometimes stones which the place abundantly
supplied; so that whilst the blows on their shields and helmets
confused even those whom they did not wound, (it was neither an easy
matter to come to close quarters, nor had they missive weapons with
which to fight at a distance,) when there was nothing now to protect
them whilst standing and exposed to the blows, some even giving way,
and the whole line wavering and unsteady the spearmen and the first
rank, renewing the shout, rush on them with drawn swords. This attack
the Etrurians could not withstand, but, facing about, fled
precipitately towards their camp; when the Roman cavalry, getting
before them by galloping obliquely across the plain, threw themselves
in the way of their flight, on which they quitted the road, and bent
their course to the mountains. From thence, in a body, almost without
arms, and debilitated with wounds, they made their way into the
Ciminian forest. The Romans, having slain in many thousands of the
Etrurians, and taken thirty-eight military standards, took also
possession of their camp, together with a vast quantity of spoil. They
then began to consider of pursuing the enemy.

36. The Ciminian forest was in those days deemed as impassable and
frightful as the German forests have been in latter times; not even
any trader having ever attempted to pass it. Hardly any, besides the
general himself, showed boldness enough to enter it; the others had
not the remembrance of the disaster at Caudium effaced from their
mind. On this, of those who were present, Marcus Fabius, the consul's
brother, (some say Caeso, others Caius Claudius, born of the same
mother with the consul,) undertook to go and explore the country, and
to bring them in a short time an account of every particular. Being
educated at Caere, where he had friends, he was perfectly acquainted
with the Etrurian language. I have seen it affirmed, that, in those
times, the Roman youth were commonly instructed in the Etrurian
learning, as they are now in the Greek: but it is more probable, that
there was something very extraordinary in the person who acted so
daringly a counterfeit part, and mixed among the enemy. It is said,
that his only attendant was a slave, who had been bred up with him,
and who was therefore not ignorant of the same language. They received
no further instructions at their departure, than a summary description
of the country through which they were to pass; to this was added the
names of the principal men in the several states, to prevent their
being at a loss in conversation, and from being discovered by making
some mistake. They set out in the dress of shepherds, armed with
rustic weapons, bills, and two short javelins each. But neither their
speaking the language of the country, nor the fashion of their dress
and arms, concealed them so effectually, as the incredible
circumstance of a stranger's passing the Ciminian forest. They are
said to have penetrated as far as the Camertian district of the
Umbrians: there the Romans ventured to own who they were, and being
introduced to the senate, treated with them, in the name of the
consul, about an alliance and friendship; and after being entertained
with courteous hospitality, were desired to acquaint the Romans, that
if they came into those countries, there should be provisions in
readiness for the troops sufficient for thirty days, and that they
should find the youth of the Camertian Umbrians prepared in arms to
obey their commands. When this information was brought to the consul,
he sent forward the baggage at the first watch, ordering the legions
to march in the rear of it. He himself staid behind with the cavalry,
and the next day, as soon as light appeared, rode up to the posts of
the enemy, which had been stationed on the outside of the forest; and,
when he had detained them there for a sufficient length of time, he
retired to his camp, and marching out by the opposite gate, overtook
the main body of the army before night. At the first light, on the
following day, he had gained the summit of Mount Ciminius, from whence
having a view of the opulent plains of Etruria, he let loose his
soldiers upon them. When a vast booty had been driven off, some
tumultuary cohorts of Etrurian peasants, hastily collected by the
principal inhabitants of the district, met the Romans; but in such
disorderly array, that these rescuers of the prey were near becoming
wholly a prey themselves. These being slain or put to flight, and the
country laid waste to a great extent, the Romans returned to their
camp victorious, and enriched with plenty of every kind. It happened
that, in the mean time, five deputies, with two plebeian tribunes, had
come hither, to charge Fabius, in the name of the senate, not to
attempt to pass the Ciminian forest. These, rejoicing that they had
arrived too late to prevent the expedition, returned to Rome with the
news of its success.

37. By this expedition of the consul, the war, instead of being
brought nearer to a conclusion, was only spread to a wider extent: for
all the tract adjacent to the foot of Mount Ciminius had felt his
devastations; and, out of the indignation conceived thereat, had
roused to arms, not only the states of Etruria, but the neighbouring
parts of Umbria. They came therefore to Sutrium, with such a numerous
army as they had never before brought into the field; and not only
ventured to encamp on the outside of the wood, but through their
earnest desire of coming to an engagement as soon as possible, marched
down the plains to offer battle. The troops, being marshalled, stood
at first, for some time, on their own ground, having left a space
sufficient for the Romans to draw up, opposite to them; but perceiving
that the enemy declined fighting, they advanced to the rampart; where,
when they observed that even the advanced guards had retired within
the works, a shout at once was raised around their generals, that they
should order provisions for that day to be brought down to them: "for
they were resolved to remain there under arms; and either in the
night, or, at all events, at the dawn of day, to attack the enemy's
camp." The Roman troops, though not less eager for action, were
restrained by the commands of the general. About the tenth hour, the
consul ordered his men a repast; and gave directions that they should
be ready in arms, at whatever time of the day or night he should give
the signal. He then addressed a few words to them; spoke in high terms
of the wars of the Samnites, and disparagingly of the Etrurians, who
"were not," he said, "as an enemy to be compared with other enemies,
nor as a numerous force, with others in point of numbers. Besides, he
had an engine at work, as they should find in due time; at present it
was of importance to keep it secret." By these hints he intimated that
the enemy was circumvented in order to raise the courage of his men,
damped by the superiority of the enemy's force; and, from their not
having fortified the post where they lay, the insinuation of a
stratagem formed against them seemed the more credible. After
refreshing themselves, they consigned themselves to rest, and being
roused without noise, about the fourth watch, took arms. Axes are
distributed among the servants following the army, to tear down the
rampart and fill up the trench. The line was formed within the works,
and some chosen cohorts posted close to the gates. Then, a little
before day, which in summer nights is the time of the profoundest
sleep, the signal being given, the rampart was levelled, and the
troops rushing forth, fell upon the enemy, who were every where



Online LibraryTitus LiviusThe History of Rome, Books 09 to 26 → online text (page 5 of 52)